SOCIAL JUSTICE WIZARDS

Sessions 20: DROW ME LIKE ONE OF YOUR FRENCH GIRLS

In strode a figure draped in a black cloak. He proceeded to the center of the room and threw back his hood, revealing the grey head of Sildar. Sildar knelt to the floor, sword in hand and said “…the Black Spider has many hands.”

Continued:

Nezznar says, in disbelief: “…Vyerith?”

Sildar, or whatever, says, “Master, I have killed the dwarf and the human warrior and hurried down here to aid you. There is now no one left who knows of our plans but these fools. Let us finish them, together.”

Nezznar releases the glass globe, allowing it to float next to him as a mage hand continues to keep it ringing. He beckons the the faux-Sildar to him, and says, “Vyerith my dear, why don’t you shed that ugly old man guise and take that lovely drow form I love so much?”

As Sildar strides toward Black Spider, Hank watches him closely. Ever since they rescued Sildar from the goblin cave, he’s been trying to hide the fact that he’s suffering from a cracked rib, but Hank’s seen him wince and favor his right side as we walks and hefts his shield. Hank sees that this Sildar before him is moving with the same difficulty.

[Hank has seen a lot of cracked ribs that he may have also caused]

“Master,” Sildar says, “I wanted to keep this face until the end.” Ander, still trapped in the sphere, shoots a to-the-point “WHAT THE HELL, SILDAR” message spell at the maybe-Sildar, who continues: “I want to see the looks on their faces as their dead friend slaughters them.” His gaze falls upon the halfing bard trapped in the bubble, and he gives them a sly wink.

Several things happen at once: Ander is safe in their bubble, and Mistria has no idea that this is Sildar playing a ruse, so having spotted the Black Spider when he began conversing with Sildar, has lit and hurled the dynamite at the three of them. Sildar, having not noticed the dwarf lighting and hurling dynamite at them, swings out with his sword and bats the tiny glass globe out of the air, breaking the resilient sphere spell just in time for the lit dynamite to land at Ander’s feet. Black Spider, having definitely realized that he has been deceived, plunges his staff at Sildar, narrowly missing a fatal hit on the old warrior.

Ander hightails it, while Hank leaps into the blast radius. As the dynamite detonates, he pulls Sildar over his shoulder and propels them both away from the blast, leaving the drow to take the full force of the explosion. The pillar is shattered and Nezznar is thrown against the wall. He feebly attempts to crawl up the wall but gets tagged with bolts and beams and axes and slings and every manner of ranged weaponry (and insults) from the party. Tipsy delivers the final “blow” however, by casting Tasha’s Hideous Laughter. The Black Spider slips from the wall and hits the stone floor, hard, wheezes once or twice, and falls unconscious.

Their master defeated, the remaining giant spiders scuttle away out the door to the chamber, leaving the party with a battered, knocked out drow.

The party berates Sildar a little for being so reckless, but in his defense, he and Gundren and Tipsy all got pretty hammered at that dwarf funeral and it really did seem like a good idea to him at the time. Sildar followed the carnage the party left behind until he was chased down the tunnel by some angry gnome armors. He slid down the rails on his shield, lost his crossbow in the chasm, and followed the party here.

They are worried, since both Taranion and Ander’s ring find it suspicious that a male drow would be working alone like this. Taranion especially is nervous that there may be more drow waiting in the wings somewhere.

For once, Hank hatches a plan. The other party members will pretend to be tied up, and Hank will pretend to be Vyerith, having actually come to the rescue and somehow subdued the entire party herself. No one is sure how this will work but figure it can’t hurt to try, and honestly everyone is pretty proud of Hank for getting over his fear of doppelgangers. They pretend to be tied up while Hank rouses Nezznar.

Hank: “Nezznar my love, it is I, Vyerith!” (passable deception check)
Nezznar: “H-how can I trust that it is you?”
Hank: “I’ll prove it to you!” open mouth kisses the drow (failed deception check)

Nezznar: “O-okay. Vyerith! I am…extremely injured. Please untie me so we can escape!”
Hank: “But what about the others?”
Nezznar: “What are you talking about? There’s no one left but us.”
Hank: Oh okay, then I kill him.

But Nezznar’s life is prolonged a bit longer when Ander wants to ask him something too. Nezznar gets really pissy, since he had been preparing a big monologue for the party expecting them to arrive and they just started blasting him and wouldn’t listen. Tipsy gives up on pretending to be tied up and slaps him with a mage hand, but he is undeterred. He has had no one to talk to but bugbears and crazy fishmen for weeks, and goddammit he is going to monologue now:

He had been a simple archivist in Menzoberranzan, researching magical items and artifacts. He grew fed up with how arbitrarily these artifacts were found and lost, until he found the history of Phandelver and its magic item factory. Having sensed the stabilization of magic in the realms after a century of spellplague, he made his move; he strangled the madame archivist in her sleep, stole her spider staff and a few other items, and fled to the surface with his notes on Phandelver. He bribed the Cragmaws to patrol the woods and roads for Gundren and any other interlopers, and hired Glasstaff to research the forge and keep Phandalin busy with his Redbrands. Nezznar was going to follow the Rockseekers to the mine, apprehend them and then seal off the mine from the surface again. He would then use the kuo toa to ferry slaves and supplies back and forth through the booming cavern, a treacherous waterway that connects to a small body of water in the underdark. As the mine became operational once more, he would control the flow of magical weapons and items to the underdark and beyond, as the realms’ wealthiest weapons dealer. But SOME PEOPLE hate ECONOMIC GROWTH, APPARENTLY.

So next they ask him about what the deal is with Taranion’s hand, which brings him great glee. Taranion shares his secret with the party: years ago, he was looking through ancient tomes and touched a book that burned his hand quite badly. He has spent years trying to magically treat the scar, but it remains, and he wears a mithril lined glove both to conceal the damage and protect him from other dangerous artifacts. Nezznar delightfully informs him that he is not merely burned, but cursed, by one of the deadly black tomes. He won’t say how he’s so sure, only that a member of the “Brotherhood of the Black Tome” recognizes the work of a tome. He asks if Taranion would happen to remember what he did with the book once he recovered, but the cleric won’t disclose its location. The party demands that Nezznar tell them how to remove the curse, but he states that no one can do anything without the secrets held in the tome that cursed Taranion.

With that, Danquayle decides that this drow is of no further use to them, and uses Lightbringer to turn the lights out for the Black Spider, for good.

From there, things move swiftly: Nezznar has little on his person but the spider staff and an iron key, the latter unlocking one of the doors in this chamber, the temple of Dumathoin. The locked door contains the elder Rockseeker brother, Nundro, starving but alive. He is grateful to be rescued and overjoyed to see his niece, Mistria. Another chamber turns out to be the quarters of Nezznar himself, containing a few treasures gleaned from the mine, including an electrum ale mug and some gems, as well as his journal and notes which corroborate his exposition about his plans. They drag his lifeless body with them back to the surface, grabbing the still unconscious Iarno Albrek along the way. They retrace their steps out of the mine, and other than a few skitters of giant spider legs in the shadows, all seems quiet in the mine.

Mormesk is nowhere to be seen, and neither is Chinny’s book. The flameskull sits alone in the middle of the chamber, and objects forcefully when Chinny tries to take it, “for good luck.” Chinny chalks it up as a loss, and leaves empty handed. Well, except for that whole “being imbued with wild magic power from the spell forge” thing.

Mosk is also nowhere to be seen, and worse, the bugbear seems to have used all the cart parts to fix himself a ride out of here and left the party in the lurch. There seems to be no way back up the tunnel until a contraption comprised of a geared hand cart and what appears to be approximately 4 animated gnome armors clatters down the tracks. The gnome armors latch onto the wrecked cart with two arms, and beckon the party to climb in with the others. Everyone climbs aboard, and the armors begin the long task of hauling the party up to the surface.

They reunite the Rockseeker bros. and present Vyerith with the mangled body of her “boyfriend,” the Black Spider. “BOYFRIEND!?” she screams, then demands to see the body up close so she can spit on it. Turns out, she’s not too happy about being groomed as Nezzar’s slave girl/muse. Doppelgangers, man! Who can tell with them.

Bruised and exhausted, but triumphant, the party looks out on the dawn of a new day. Phandelver is secure once again, and the web of the Black Spider has been unraveled. Their quest is finished…for now.

Defeated: 6 Giant spiders, 2 kuo toa, Garrblak the kuo toa whip, Nezznar the Black Spider

NPCs met: Nezznar, the Black Spider (dead AF), Nundro Rockseeker

Acquired: Nezznar’s Adamantine Spider Staff, Globe of Seclusion (the master item for Ander’s glass items), Electrum Ale mug (100gp), 190ep, 130gp, 15pp, nine small gemstones (10gp each)

Quests: Deal with Black Spider, rescue Nundro. All done! Well there is that thing with Taranion’s hand. And Chinny’s lost book.

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Sessions 19: MINER ILLUSION

Having juiced up all their gear in the magical green flame, the party tromps back the way they came until the discover the source of the wave echo that gives Wave Echo Cave its name: the great booming cavern.

Which is basically a giant toilet siphon. A ledge snakes around a sheer drop into a deep pool of dark water, which slowly fills up with runoff from other parts of the cave. As they watch, the water level fills up to a worn watermark on the stone, and then violently sucks down into the depths, pulling the air in the room with it. Water then rushes back into the pool, creating a loud crash that deafens most of the party. They gesture towards a side exit to the room, and proceed in that direction, noticing a curious pattern of wet footprints leading away from the pool…

They follow the footprints down a rough passageway until they notice thick webbing coating the walls and ceiling. They don’t see what’s responsible for the webs, but Hank decides to open up the decanter of endless water at it anyway, and flushes a not-so-itsy bitsy giant spider off the ceiling. Still deafened, the party launches an uncoordinated attack on the beast, quickly smashing it because the DM forgot its turn :(

Hank theorizes that perhaps they have killed the black spider. It is black, after all.

…buuuut, just to make sure, they keep going down the passageway until they find smooth stone walls, cut to a dwarf’s dimensions, leading to a open doorway. Voices drift out from this chamber, and Taranion recognizes the undercommon dialect. One of them sounds humanoid, but the other voice…does not. Tipsy sneaks her best sneak into the doorway and then peeks her best peek at…a drow, seated in the open palm of a massive dwarven statue, conversing with one of three oddly shaped creatures she’s never seen before. Another giant spider sits beneath the feet of the drow, watching as the conversation seems to take a turn for the unpleasant.

The party decides to employ its 4 sneakiest members to creep into the room and hide behind pillars. They spread out, taking advantage of the drow’s apparent preoccupation with the business deal he’s conducting, until one of the creatures–a pincerstaff toting kuo toa whip–glances about nervously, uttering “NEZZNAR…WE ARE NOT ALONE…”

Taranion, who is standing just outside the doorway with Danquayle and Mistria, understands undercommon enough to know that the jig may or may not be up. Rather than leave things ambiguous, he leaps into the doorway and hurls guiding bolt at the drow.

Blasted, the drow leaps to his feet and yells the most vile, intimidating thing he can summon: “HOW RUDE!”

He then commands his allies to attack, and the four stealthy party members discover that the columns they are crouching behind each have a giant spider hanging out at the top. Some engage with the spiders, while the forces waiting outside pour into the room to battle the fishmen standing between them and the drow. Hank does a flying jump kick towards the dark elf, who seems competent at deflecting spells but less so at deflecting monks. Having had enough of whatever the hell is happening in here, the mage casts greater invisibility on himself, and eludes Hank’s grasp.

While the party tangles with the spiders and fishmen, the Black Spider chastises them from the safety of being invisible and somewhere on the ceiling. He is SO CHEESED that they barged in here and starting firing off spells and beating up his spiders when he was going to offer them a deal. They assert, in so many words, they have no interest in any deals with this fucking wiener, so he transforms the floor into a mass of writhing black tentacles. Who’s rude now?

One giant spider, a kuo toa, and Danquayle get grappled by the tentacles, which constrict around their bodies. Danquayle watches as the tentacles wrap around each of the spider’s legs and pull, wishboning it 8 ways. The kuo toa whip struggles to pull his lackey out with his pincer staff, but can only watch as his fellow fishman gets crushed, folded in half, and pulled down into the mass of tentacles. The whip curses at Nezznar as he and his remaining lackey flee the room.

Danquayle is tired of being in the play pit and begins straining against the tentacles, ripping them out at the roots, and storms out of the area of effect. Other party members are tussling with the giant spiders, with Tipsy getting stuck in a bunch of webbing and Chinny getting poisoned by a deep bite. As Taranion advances on one of the spiders, it begins to mutate and the torso of a sickly, gaunt drow emerges from its head, becoming the thing the sun elf fears most: a drider. The creature taunts him in Black Spider’s voice, and presses him about the condition…of his hand. Taranion asserts that his hand, concealed in its special mithril lined glove, is perfectly fine, but Black Spider argues otherwise, stating that as soon as Taranion blasted him with the guiding bolt, he felt the taint of the black tome upon him.

“There’s no taint on my hand!”

“YES THERE IS! IT’S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU TOUCH THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T!”

Taranion chokes down his fear with a successful wisdom roll, and swings for the bleachers with his trusty longsword. The blade passes straight through the elven torso of the creature like a sword through a minor illusion, because it is that thing. The illusion shattered, he begins to lay into the spider in earnest, putting out several of its eyes.

[what is a drider but a type of spider man, anyway?]

As spider battles are waged across the room, Mistria once again reaches for her dwarven dynamite and tinder. She readies herself and prepares to light the fuse as soon as the Black Spider shows his face again.

Ander meanwhile has been battling a spider of their own, when it suddenly disengages and scuttles back up the pillar. Ander hears a strange ringing sound, like a finger circling a wine glass, and the glass staff they stole begins to resonate, followed by the glass brooch, and the glass ring, until a glass sphere suddenly materializes around them. The Black Spider, once again visible, comes striding down the wall, an adamantine staff tucked under his arm, a stemless glass goblet in his hand which he is circling with a finger.

[fucking showoff]

“I bet you felt so clever, stealing all three glass items from my underlings. I bet you wondered what they did if you gathered all three of them! WELL NOW YOU KNOW! ISN’T THAT COOL?”

Ander desperately beats on the resilient sphere to no effect while the drow continues ringing the small glass globe.

“You’ve emasculated my wizard, which is annoying, and since I know Grol wouldn’t part with that ring for his life I can safely assume you have killed my bugbear, which is frankly a relief; but I do not know what has become of the owner of that brooch. I must warn you, you have already killed one of my doppelgangers, but if you have also killed my favorite doppelganger, the consequences for you are going to be very dire indeed.”

Just as Ander goes to answer that Vyerith is definitely fine or at least she was the last they saw her, a voice rings out from the doorway: “NEZZNAR!”

In strides a figure draped in a black cloak. He proceeds to the center of the room and throws back his hood, revealing the grey head of Sildar. Sildar kneels to the floor, sword in hand and says “…the Black Spider has many hands.”

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Session 18: FUN with FUNICULARS

Dang, a lot happened this session. Long post ahead:

Having crashed their funicular cars at the bottom of the tracks, the party gets down to business tracking down the Black Spider and/or the Forge o’ Spells. Hank investigates the path that leads off in the direction of the booming wave sound, and finds a cavern full of giant, glowing fungus.

Chinny and Taranion identify these fungi as being A) weird, and B) most definitely probably poisonous. Mistria, with her dwarven resistance to poisons, trudges through to explore. The disturbed puff balls begin releasing toxic spores into the air, and Mistria ducks into a side cave to escape.

Through the cave, she discovers a large room with scorched walls speckled with shiny, reflective spots like colored glass. The room smells like stale, burnt hair, and some investigation reveals the incinerated corpses of a bugbear and a few goblins. Hank and Ander have braved the fungi cavern to join her, and as she turns to greet them they see a figure made of shadow silently rise behind her and rob her of her life force with a single icy touch.

Ander uses message to contact Danquayle and summon the rest of the party to their aid as the shadowy figure materializes into a horrifying wraith clutching a human skull. Spooky guy begins threatening the party with certain death, which is pretty uncool of him, but I guess when you’ve been dead 500 years and stuck in a shitty cave you start to hate the living or something.

When one of the party members moves to attack the wraith, calling himself Mormesk, he flings the skull at them. Green flames erupt from the skull and it hovers menacingly in their face, burning with palpable rage. Ander attempts to snatch the flame skull using mage hand, but the skull generates its own mage hand and cancels it out. Mistria meanwhile, has retrieves the dynamite from her bag and is getting ready to light the fuse.

The situation is growing tense, until old Mormesk gets a whiff of something powerful among the party; Chinny’s book. The sketchy gnome levels with the party that he’s been carrying around a powerfully evil book that he won in a card game, hoping to find a way to dispose of it or at least keep it from falling into the wrong hands. He won’t, or cant, say for sure what it does, but it’s got a sort of “book of the dead” quality to it. No one likes the sound of it, but Mormesk has decided: either he gets the book, or he takes the party’s souls and adds them to his collection of specters.

After much debate, Chinny relinquishes the book to the wraith, resolving that they come back for it in the future. Mormesk is feeling generous and lets them look through his old things, which include a few scrolls, some books, a nice pearl (100gp) and the one thing they can’t have: his old pipe. Taranion pores over the book shelves and finds something interesting: a history book with a map tucked into its binding. He decides to save that one for later.

The party decides to leave Mormesk to his reading, and continues into less scorchy, more fancy looking hallways. They enter a large chamber filled almost entirely with a giant stone dome. The wizard’s key, in Hank’s pocket, begins to subtly hum and grow colder. The dome is impenetrable, and they circle around it to find a magical barrier of sorts. Someone, or something, can be heard murmuring on the other side, and Tipsy recognizes it as the voice of Iarno Albrek, better known as Glasstaff. Using her pet mouse as a test subject, Danquayle discovers that the barrier is just an illusion, and the party proceeds around the bend to find a filthy, exhausted Iarno kneeling in front of the dome.

He does not respond to the party’s approach, and when Ander attempts to get his attention he zaps them with shocking grasp and goes back to his work. It appears as though he has been trying to open the dome through various spells, glyphs, and runes, but hasn’t had any luck. Chalk and charcoal notes and scribbles cover the stone, and his finger nails are bleeding from scratching at the smooth stone. They identify that he is under a powerful geas spell, and resolving that he won’t snap out of it any time soon, they knock him out.

When one of them addresses the apparent doorway, they activate a magical phone tree sophisticated magic mouth spell:

“Hello! Due to repeated unauthorized attempts at entry, access to the Forge of Spells has been temporarily revoked. To reestablish access, please provide proof of membership in the Phandelver Pact.”

Three alcoves open in the stone at staggered heights: one four feet off the ground, one 3 feet, and one 2 feet. The party recalls the Phandelver Pact consisting of human mages, dwarven miners, and gnomish crafters. They choose three items–the wizard’s key, Mistria’s family Rockseekre ring, and the mechnical crab they found in the gnome workshop upstairs–and the alcoves glow. The magic mouth say “Scanning…” and after an agonizing wait, announces “..access restored. Have a nice day!”

The items are pushed out of the alcoves and a door opens in the stone, unleashing a blast of arcane energy. Peering inside, they see the floor sloping down towards the center of the chamber, where a font of magical energy erupts like a geyser from a brazier in the floor. As arcs of green light lash out from it and strike the ceiling, Ander uses mage hand once more to place Hank’s sickle in the beam of energy. They can barely hold it there before it gets blasted away, embedding itself in the solid stone wall of the chamber. Hank sees a hole that looks like it would fit the key on the brazier, and sensing that the key wants to go to there, he plunges into the forge room.

Hank immediately starts taking blasts of green energy from the forge, one of which forces him backwards, another of which makes him confused as to what he was doing. Chinny and Mistria rush in to help, and each of them begin attracting bolts as well. Several of the bolts ricochet off and produce some…unusual effects. Chinny suddenly grows to 6 and half feet in height, and Hank becomes utterly terrified of him. A bolt passes through Mistria and bounces outside the chamber, suddenly imbuing Danquayle with the power of flight. As Hank reaches the brazier, he jams the key into the slot and begins cranking the valve shut. The torrent of energy wanes to a tiny flame, and then snuffs out.

As everyone gathers their wits, the brazier creaks open under its own power, unleashing a small, green flame. The flames begin to fill up a human shaped form, eventually revealing the figure of the ghost wizard they encountered back in Neverwinter, who greets them.

He is: Wendyll Nosewhistle, humble hedge mage and dead guy. Reinvigorated by the magic of the forge, Wendyll can finally do more than just moan and haunt things; he can provide exposition! Turns out, Wendyll is the last in a long line of cowardly, shitty wizards who can nonetheless trace their heritage back to Elgran Nosewhistle, an intern in Phandelver during its heyday. Elgran survived the orc raids that destroyed the mines by locking himself in the forge chamber and not coming out for days. When he finally left, he shut off the forge and took the valve key with him, binding it with a spell that would notify him whenever someone entered the mine again. He crawled out a small opening which collapsed behind him, and went out into the world.

The Nosewhistles passed the key and a handful of maps and notes down from generation to generation, until it at last came to Wendyll. When the Rockseekers rediscovered the mine, Wendyll was summoned, and he was passing through Neverwinter on his way to Phandalin when he was killed and robbed in his sleep. When the party stayed in the murder-room, Wendyll’s confused ghost haunted the key, and rode in Hank’s pocket all the way to the Forge of Spells.

His mission complete, Wendyll plans on possessing the brazier for a while longer, until he can discover its mysteries and learn how to get the forge up and running again. He offers the party the chance to temporarily enchant all their gear but has a favor to ask them: Make sure the forge doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. As everyone sticks their weapons into the green flame, they set their sights on Black Spider.

Defeated: Glasstaff, negotiated with Mormesk

NPCs met: Mormesk the Wraith, Flameskull, Wendyll Nosewhistle the Shitty Wizard Ghost

Acquired: Scroll of Silence and Revivify, Pearl (100gp), Mysterious map, temporary +1 magic enchantment to all their gear, Lightbringer and Dragonguard (I’ll talk about these next time.)

Quests: Deal with Black Spider, rescue Nundro.

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Session 17: Auld Lang Myne

(This session would’ve been better with the name of the next session, but it was closest to New Year’s so here we are)

With the ghouls re-dead and the killer robot armors securely behind a small, gnome-made door, the party sets about figuring what’s up with this funicular business.

Hank starts messing around with the weird bottle thing they found, and discovers it’s a Decanter of Endless Water when it goes off in his face.

After fire-hosing the ghast and ghouls across the room, Ander realizes that they can use the decanter to fill the tank on the front of the funicular, weighing down the cart enough to descend into the tunnel.

The party piles into the carts and fills up the tank, after setting a light cantrip on the front of the tank. The ancient wheels grind and squeal, but sure enough they roll onward into the darkness, drawing cable through the massive pulley at the top of the tracks.

It’s a long journey down the steep, 30 degree grade. The floors are slick and wet with runoff from the dark pool upstairs, and the walls occassionally fall away to reveal larger sections of cavern strung together by the funicular tunnel. Taranion peers ahead into the darkness, and after about 20 minutes he spies another cart attached to the other end of the cable they have been dragging down the tracks. He peers closer, and sees a pair of furry ears sticking out over the cart walls. They don’t have to wait long before the carts pass, and three bugbears spring from the cart to attack the party.

Javelins, monks and goblins fly between the carts, and Mosk, the eyepatch wearing Bugbear from the Redbrand hideout, has declared his intention to murder everyone. Ander switches carts to try and sabotage their ride, while Mistria and Tipsy get in on the action as well. As the bugbear cart gets out of range, he slams the cable attachment with his morningstar, severing it and sending both carts hurtling down in free fall.

Mistria tries to leap back to the party-cart, but her short dwarf legs fail to carry her to safety and she falls to the tracks. She grabs on to the cable whipping around behind the cart, and rides her shield down the tracks, pulling herself back to the cart. The battle continues, with all the bugbears falling but Mosk. After getting poked in his uncovered eye, he just moves the eyepatch over to reveal his uninjured eye and keeps fighting. But the combined efforts of Tipsy and Hank bring the brute to heel, and as they are about to deliver the killing blow, Ander’s ring suddenly begs them to spare Mosk’s life, to save his son’s life.

Ander cries out incredulously, “HEY, WHO’S YOUR DAD?”

To which Mosk responds, “I AM THE PROUD SON OF THE MIGHTY KING GROL!”

Whatever they’re going to do, they need to do it fast: the tracks are about to lead over a giant chasm, shortly after which, the tracks end. Chinny desperately hauls at the cable and helps bring Mistria back to the cart, while Ander knocks Mosk unconscious and yells to anyone who can hear: Pull the brakes!

The wheels on the carts lock and flings everyone to the floor as they screech to a halt, but there’s not enough track for them to completely stop. They hit the blocks at the base of the tracks hard, but everyone manages to stay in one piece. Not so for the tanks, which are fully broken and pouring out their contents into a channel cut beneath the tracks. As everyone dusts themselves off, they hear the sound of an ancient water wheel creak into rotation as the water flows from the wrecked carts.

[ta-da]

They disembark and rouse Mosk. At ring/Grol’s request, Ander tells him the tale of how Grol tried to play Black Spider’s game and paid with his life, and how Mosk must return home where his people need him, and also to stop wearing that stupid jeweled eyepatch. Hank won’t let Mosk go unless he swears to be cool with Targor. Mosk acknoledges that since Targor killed Grol, he is the rightful ruler of their tribe, at least until such a time comes where Mosk is fit to challenge him.

Hank reckons that’s enough, and they ask Mosk if he can do anything about the mine carts he destroyed. Mosk sets to work with a room of cart-parts, after giving the party the lay of the land: the main passage of the mine is under a ton of old rock, and is immovable by regular force. Black Spider’s people had been passing through the mines, but something in there has started attacking them. There is a cavern towards the east that the bugbears had avoided, but the party hears a familiar sound coming from that direction: the sound of a great wave crashing, much louder than before, echoing through the cavern.

Defeated: 1 goblin, 2 bugbears + Mosk.

NPCs met: Reencountered Mosk, discovered that Grol’s disembodied soul now resides in Ander’s ring.

Acquired: 1 jeweled bugbear eyepatch (50gp)

Quests: Help the Rockseekers retake Phandelver, rescue Nundro Rockseeker, find a way back out of Deep Phandelver.

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Session 16: In the Mines, in the Mines, in the mines, in the mines…

While the rest of the party went a-spelunking, Tipsy participated in the dwarven wake for Tharden Rockseeker. With Sildar, Gundren, and Vyerith in attendance, they constructed a hasty stone cairn over Tharden, and Sildar spoke a few words. Gundren then broke out the last of the dwarven brandy, and the 4 mourners drained the cask.

Before sending her back into the mines, Gundren entrusted Tipsy with Tharden’s prized possessions: his Boots of Striding and Springing. And so, Tipsy springs and strides back into the mine by her lonesome.

She quickly picks up the bloody trail that leads from the stirge battle, and follows it through the western branch of the complex to the large tunnel chamber, where the rest of the party is standing around yelling at Hank, who is trying to make the giant mine cart go.

Meanwhile, Ander is eyeing the creepy wizard skeleton they’ve spotted at the bottom of a dark pond. They use mage hand to fish out the skeleton’s erm, mage hand, and retrieve a Wand of Magic Missiles and two platinum rings. They respectfully put the hand back in the pond.

Tipsy rejoins the party in the tunnel chamber, but soon discovers that she’s been followed-–by a GHOUL.

The beast emerges from the barracks chamber gnawing on a dead stirge and following the trail of bloody footprints, and lets out a monstrous shriek as it spots the party. Battle commences, and as Hank tries to shut the undead predator on the other side of the door, he sees that it is not alone. Three ghouls soon overpower him and rush the room.

Slashing and biting, the ghouls try to paralyze anyone who gets close, but they cannot land a good hit. The party is wearing them down when the worst smell they have ever smelled wafts through the chamber, and a bloated, scabby ghast wanders in from the Great Hall. As Danquayle takes in the sight of this wretched undead creature, her blood turns cold and the splinter of fear that her nightmare* left in her mind begins to take over. As the ghast approaches her, she manages to overcome her fear; she names the hideous beast “Geoff” and vows to send it to undead-hell in the name of her goddess Selune.

*I haven’t posted it yet, but Danquayle got dragged into hell by an undead creature in her Halloween nightmare.

Now that they ain’t scared of no ghouls, the party sets to work picking apart their smelly foe. Geoff the Ghast manages to paralyze Danquayle and nearly poisons her with his stench, but the blessing of Selune protects her. No one wants to get too close to him, so Ander casts cloud of knives on his location and he is shredded to the bone. As he collapses in a puddle of reeking black blood, the party hears the clitter clatter of skeleton feet rushing into the room, having escaped their ad hoc prison. Mistria shatters one of their skulls into powder with a handaxe, and the remaining bone men silently glance around at the carnage before them and tip toe back into the darkness from which they came.

They follow the skeletons a bit and explore the Great Hall, where it seems the ghouls were hanging out and munching on a poor goblin. A small, winding corridor leads from here to a cramped, messy chamber, instantly recognizable as a gnome workshop. Ander decides that they have wandered into too many ambushes for one day, and naps up in the aqueduct. Chinny begins to search for the burrow that must be nearby, while the others wonder at the many contraptions and tools and intricate gnome-armors that remain in the room.

Chinny and Tipsy discover the burrow, containing a gnome skeleton clutching a strange, ornate bottle, and Tipsy notices movement out of the corner of her eye. Upon inspection, she finds a tiny mechanical crab. It tries to scuttle away as soon as she takes her eyes off of it, but she captures it anyway.

The others in the workshop notice that the floor is littered with smashed, broken orc skeletons. Taranion has taken an interest in the gnome armors and is trying to pick at the gem on one of their chests when it suddenly slaps his hand away. 4 animated gnome armors spring to life and all start trying to punch the sun elf in the junk. Two of them lock together and rearrange into a 4 armed dwarf-sized armor, at which point the party decides to leave.

As three armors combine into a human sized, 6 armed warrior wielding the 4th armor as a club, the party shuts the door and resolves to never speak of this again.

Defeated: 3 ghouls, 1 Geoff the Ghast, 1 skeleton. Scared off 5 skeletons, evaded 4 animated gnome armors

Acquired: 2 platinum rings, wand of magic missiles, a very fancy bottle, mechanical crab trinket, boots of striding and springing

Quests: Help the Rockseekers retake Phandelver, rescue Nundro Rockseeker

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Session 15: I was Born a Magic-Ore Miner’s Daughter

The party wakes up shaking in puddles of their own drool on the floor of a musty cavern. They all remember following Gundren down here, to the secret side-entrance to Phandelver in this crack in the rock, and they all have fleeting sensations of terror* lingering in their heads. Gundren however, is on his knees by a small canvas tent, weeping big fat dwarven tears over the corpse of his youngest brother, Tharden Rockseeker. A little medieval CSI work reveals that Tharden suffered a clean puncture wound straight through the back, but that his body was also tainted with deadly poisons. All signs point to the Black Spider being responsible, and Vyerith the Doppelganger confirms that this is his style of kill.

*I’ll do the second part of the Halloween adventure later, tumblr lost my draft

Gundren pulls himself together enough to impart some info on the party: he had been not entirely forthcoming with them, hoping to keep this deal and some of his info between his family members. He had been hoping all this would somehow turn out in his favor, but upon seeing his brother dead he realizes that he set himself up for tragedy. So he levels: first of all, he empties his giant duffel, offering the party any mining or dungeoneering equipment they could possibly desire, along with a few choicer items: 2 potions of healing, which he had been saving for his brothers, and 2 charges of Dugmaren’s Hammer (aka DWARF DYNAMITE).

Gundren declares that he must stay up top: it is unfitting for a dwarf to remain dead above ground for so long, and they must bury Tharden immediately. Sildar will stay with Gundren to guard him, and Vyerith will remain with both of them for supervision. As Gundren breaks out the remaining dwarven brandy from the Cragmaw Castle caper, Tipsy decides that she too will help aid them in burying the dwarf. Gundren leaves them with one final bit of advice, gleaned from the dwarven tome they stole from Glasstaff: Phandelver is the name of the mine, but the mine was carved out of an existing cave called Wave Echo Cave. Something in the deepest reaches of the mine creates a massive booming sound, like waves crashing, and it echoes throughout the mine. The deeper you go, the louder it gets. Vyerith adds that she’s never been very far into the mine, she always parlayed with the Spider in the Great Hall, and gives the party directions for how to get there. As the wake for Tharden gets underway, the rest of the party rappels down the chasm into the rift that leads to Phandelver.

They begin in the direction provided by Vyerith, coming into a ruined, round room. Fragments of a grand statue lay scattered across the ground, and some buried stairs leading up and towards the outside reveal that this was once a foyer of sorts for the mine. Ander decides to get a better look and conjures a light cantrip, revealing the ceiling to be covered by a colony of stirges. The bloodsuckers immediately descend on the party, and are summarily slaughtered. Taranion can’t seem to get a hit on the flapping creatures, and spends most the fight trying to smack one with a book.

Ander apologizes for waking the stirges, then wanders into another room and wakes up a room full of angry skeletons. A combination of ancient dwarven defenders and orc raiders, the skeletons begin to attack any intruders they see. The party smashes a few of them to bits, before Taranion casts turn undead and sends them cowering into the back corner. They barricade the undead warriors in the room with some splintery bunks, and proceed back into the foyer.

Rather than follow Vyerith’s directions down some stairs and into the Great Hall, they go into a side room that seems to have once been the assayer’s office. A room behind the counter holds a massive safe, which has deteriorated over the years. They crack it with brute force, and find a skeleton (not animate) clinging to a small chest containing some treasure, including a couple diamonds.

Following this path, they skirt through a couple quiet, empty chambers: the old store room, and a miner’s barrack. Finally they enter the largest chamber they’ve seen so far, a huge room with a tunnel leading down into the depths of the mine. A single set of massive mine carts sits on a track at the mouth of the tunnel. They see a wooden aquaduct leading over the carts. No water runs through the duct, but a thin stream of icy water is running down the stairs from the room to the west, wear the duct appears to lead. Ander hops into the dry duct and follows it to a room with a dark pool, fed from a small water fall in the rock. The duct appears to have once collected water from the waterfall, but has since rotted away and now hangs in the air.

Hank, meanwhile, has decided to test the minecart contraption. Against everyone’s protestations, Hank yanks the lever in the cart, hears a loud clank and…nothing. They notice that a thick cable is attached to the back of the cart, leading around a large pulley set in the floor of the room and then down into the darkness of the tunnel. They are just trying to work out the operation of the carts when they hear footsteps coming from the barracks…

Defeated: 10 stirges, 3 skeletons destroyed, 7 turned

Acquired: 2 healing potions, 2 chrages of dynamite, dungeoning gear, 2 diamonds

NPC’s met: Tharden Rockseeker (dead :C )

Quests: Help the Rockseekers retake Phandelver, rescue Nundro and Tharden

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Session 14: My Dork Twisted Fantasy, Halloween Spooptacular
Part 1

As the party trudges along towards their doom goal, Gundren Rockseeker points out a huge pile of boulders, reckoning that the original entrance to the mine lay somewhere at the bottom. What he and his brothers found was a split in the cliff face likely triggered by the eruption of Mt Hotenow 30 years ago, creating an entrance into a natural cavern that connects to Phandelver. He hitches up his britches and they all proceed down into the dark.

They emerge into a cavern and spy a drop-off up ahead, and a small camp site nearby. Gundren rushes over the camp, while Taranion peers down over the ledge…only to get blasted in the face by a gust of green gas. The wave of fumes spread through the cavern, sending everyone tumbling into darkness.

In the darkness, each of them feels a chilling presence and hears a voice, and sees a dark specter approach them:

_You are adrift…no longer on the material plane

You entered this cave 10-strong, but you are now each alone…in the dark.

Each of you must face your darkest fears alone, as do all mortals.

The challenges you face tonight come not from evil or chaos, but from the darkness within your own minds.

I am the spectre of fear itself. I come not to stand in your way, but to offer you the gift…of self-knowledge.

Fear is the proving ground of heroes. Are you ready for the test to begin?_

Part 1: Mistria’s Dream

The party all regains consciousness, seemingly no worse for the wear. Gundren sees a narrow ledge running along the cavern wall, extending out over the drop-off, and he runs along the ledge into the darkness of the cavern, which seems much larger and deeper on further inspection. Gundren proceeds, indeed, he dashes along the ledge, leaving the rest of the party behind. The rest of the party all agree they should have Mistria, the dwarf and a Rockseekre in her own right, lead the party. They all grab onto a rope and proceed along the ledge. Before long, the ledge narrows and party members start losing their footing. In horror, Mistria watches Taranion and Chinny tumble down into the darkness.

She doesn’t have to long to think about it before she sees another dwarf up ahead, and is surprised to meet her sister, Conundra Rockseekre! Conundra snottily states that as real Rockseekre and dwarf, she’s right at home in a mine, but that she’s surprised to see Mistria here. She calls out into the darkness, and their parents, Hercule and Agata Rockseekre appear in a heretofore unseen cable car. They’re pleased to see Mistria taking an interest in the family business, but patronizingly tell her to be careful, just as the rocks give way and the rest of the party slides down the cliff. Mistria hangs on to the rope, holding the weight of the surviving party members over the ledge. Conundra refuses to help, telling Mistria she can just let go and move on. Mistria refuses to let go, and as her muscles strain she slips back into darkness.

Part 2: Hank’s Dream

Hank awakes…in his bed. In the bed in his childhood cottage in Thundertree, as a matter of fact. Thundertree is not as he remembers in his most vivid memories, covered in burning ash and swarming with zombies, but rather is intact. Nothing seems to be stirring, so Hank wanders over to a house he seems to remember. He knocks upon the door, only to be greeted by…Hank.

The two Hanks briefly marvel at each other, and Hank feels he has finally found someone who understands him. However, their conversation attracts a third Hank, and now it’s a crowd. Hanks decide to go get BBQ to talk things over, but when they venture into the town square they find their favorite patio eatery is crawling with even more Hanks.

A flubbed insight check only tells Hank that he is Hank, and suddenly he catches on to the idea that these many other Hanks might in fact be doppelgangers. The extra Hanks simultaneously begin kicking each other in the teeth, which results in the original Hank taking damage.

As he reels around, he sees that the statue of the local hero in the town square is also a Hank wearing a brilliant gold breastplate.

Hank decides that the old wizard’s tower on the hill is the key to solving this riddle, and as he suggests they all proceed there a terrible rumbling comes from the earth, and an earsplitting sound emanates from the tower. The tower explodes into rubble, and a giant dragon soars from the wreckage. As it swoops low over the town square, Hank sees that the dragon is ALSO A HANK and with a David Lee Roth screech, it bathes the town in flames, sending Hank back into darkness.

Part 3: Ander’s Dream

Ander is thrown from their feet as the wave of gas overtakes them. They awake to the feeling of waves, and the sound of a stormy sea and mournful singing. They find themselves on the deck on a ship in rough seas. They are surrounded by strangers and friends alike, who are all congratulating Ander, who just wants to turn the ship towards land.

It dawns on Ander that not only have they stumbled into a wedding, it’s their wedding and everyone is too excited to acknowledge that the boat is rapidly sinking.

Sildar drags Ander to a makeshift altar, where a bride stands obscured by a heavy veil. Ander already has a ring of course, so Taranion begins a Oghma style matrimonial service, which naturally takes forever. By the time he is done, icy cold waters are swirling around the feet of everyone on deck, and the ship has started to tilt.

As the ceremony ends, the bride pulls back their veil to reveal… the betrothed that Ander left behind, years ago. But they quickly discover it’s an illusion, as the bride’s face distorts and shifts revealing that it’s Vyerith the doppelganger. She clings to Ander as the ship begins to capsize, and Ander must throw her off.

The bard grabs a makeshift floatation device and dives into the icy waters. They fight the undertow as the broken vessel is pulled down into the depths. When they look back, they see Vyerith in her soaked wedding dress staring back at them, motionless as she vanishes into the sea.

Ander struggles to keep their head above water in the rough seas with no land in sight, when the cold and exhaustion overtake them and it all goes black.

Part 4: Tipsy’s Dream

Tipsy emerges, as if from a daydream, and finds herself back in her childhood cottage. It is plain, austere even, and she hears the familiar sound of her mother working at the stove. Dinner is flavorless grey porridge, same as always. But tonight is different, because young Mizandry knows that the harvest festival happens tonight out in the woods. She desperately wants to go, but her mother insists that dancing and music and flavor is for sinful folk, and that Mizandry must do her chores tonight.

As she resigns herself to her boring fate, a pebble bounces off the window she’s busy cleaning–it’s her childhood friend! She urges Tipsy to escape and come to the festival! Tipsy tells her mother she’s going to sweep the dirt outside, and off she goes into the woods following the sound of concertina music.

In a clearing, several long tables have been piled high with the bounty of the harvest. Pumpkins, apples, cider, baked goods, it’s a regular halfling feast. Tipsy and her friend are grabbing handfuls of everything when they spy a man atop a barrel pouring countless mugs out of a single vessel. They go to see the marvel, and each get a mug full of effervescent liquid. As Tipsy brings the mug to her lips, she discovers the contents are actually bitter salt water.

As she sputters and spits out the brine, she sees that the festival has grown dark. The bonfires and candles have faded, and the sun has finally set behind the copse of trees. All of the food lining the tables has turned grey and rotten, and faces of all the merrymakers have turned pallid and gaunt. In the growing darkness she sees all of their eyes glowing with pale blue light.

Tipsy naturally is ready to GTFO, but in unison the spirits tell her that she cannot leave, for the harvest festival is about to truly begin. You see… TIPSY is the harvest. She’s convinced that’s she’s about to be eaten by ghosts, when they tell her not to be ridiculous. They are wandering spirits, and can only eat one’s memories. They beseech her to tell them about flavors and tastes she’s enjoyed, so they can remember the good parts of being alive.

The only problem is, Tipsy’s family is so joyless and austere that she’s not been allowed to enjoy good food and flavors! The spirits grow restless until Tipsy (passing a wisdom check) suddenly remembers that she’s not a child anymore, not in real life, and she’s experienced thousands of flavors since leaving home. She regales the spirits with tales of food and feasts, as the light fades from the autumn sky.

It wasn’t such a bad time after all.

LOOK OUT FOR PART 2: THE REST OF THEM

Notes:

The inspiration for my Specter costume comes from the Deathless Spectre/Gogolithic Mass from Sword and Sworcery, as does a lot of the music I used during this session.

The Hank-Dragon definitely was inspired by a Skyrim mod. You know which one.

I don’t know if Mistria’s player intended for her name to sound like Mystery, but I took a page out of Chris Perkin’s playbook to give a PC’s family members thematically similar names. It’s not as good Omin, Portentia and Auspicia, but it’s alright.

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Session 13: Doppelpocalypse

Our merry gang settles down in the Alderleaf hayloft to take their much needed long rest, rising well after dawn has broken the next day. Early morning rains have swept over the region, dousing the last embers of the burned-down townmaster’s hall, and also obscuring any tracks leading to and and from town. The party knows that a doppelganger remains at large, but how can they find her?

They consider conducting a dragnet of the town, looking for the wounds they inflicted on the doppelganger the day before, but that seems…impractical. They decide that since they’ve armed Halia with the information about the shapechanger, Phandalin is probably as safe as it’s going to get.

Since the doppelganger can only read minds and change her own shape, each member of the party establishes a unique token that they’ll carry to prove their identity. Most use their trinkets from character creation, while Gundren uses his one-of-a-kind map to Phandelver and Sildar chooses his personal sword and griffon emblazoned shield.

[Ander has a gold whistle. Hank has wolf-fur ear muffs. Danquayle has what’s probably a 9V battery]

Their packs filled with rations donated by the Alderleafs, the party departs Phandalin without incident and dives into the foothills of the Sword Mountains. Knowing they have rough terrain ahead of them, they leave Mr. Eddie Van Halen the Horse behind.

[Considering his last couple days, he’s fine with it, actually]

They follow the well-beaten mining trails leading into the hills for a few hours as the sun rises over Ice Spire Peak and dries the rain from the earth. Sildar strikes up a conversation with the party’s newest member, the Waterdhavian noble Mistria Rockerseekre. Sildar waxes about his service in the Griffon Cavalry, and how he eventually answered the call of Lord Dagult Neverember when he sought to rebuild Neverwinter 10 years ago. He is curious regarding Mistria’s family’s standing in Waterdeep, wondering aloud if perhaps they have sway with the Masked Lords of the city, or any familiarity with the Lord’s Alliance. Sildar recognizes that he may have blown his chance to bring Phandalin under the protection of Neverember’s alliance, but a Rockseeker with holdings in a lucrative regional mine might stand a better chance at challenging Halia Thornton’s Zhentarim influence.

Gundren continues to guide the party, taking them off the established trail and into rougher terrain. They’ve travelled about 3 hours when they spot a thin wisp of smoke on the horizon. Hank and Ander shimmy to the top of a hill to spy a narrow ravine up ahead, guarded by a single orc. Camp-fire smoke rises from deeper in the ravine behind him. Gundren confirms that the ravine is the only way forward, but he never encountered orcs in this region before.

While Ander acts as lookout, Hank skitters between the boulders leading up to the guard. He gets right up to the guard’s back before being noticed, but manages to knock him out cold before he can reach the orc camp within the ravine. Hank spies 6 orcs sitting around a tent and campfire, with another unfamiliar figure tied to a makeshift flagpole nearby. He reports back to the party with the unconscious orc guard.

They rouse the orc, who is surprised to find himself surrounded by the very party he and his mates were waiting to ambush. His leader, Brughor Axe-Biter, had lead them from Wyvern Tor to raid any miner’s camps they could find in the region. That morning they had caught a lone individual wandering the hills who tried to barter for their release by warning the orcs of a certain party of adventures coming from Phandalin to slay them. Instead, Brughor kept the wanderer as hostage, and vowed to destroy the party and then burn all of Phandalin to the ground.

No one likes the sound of that one bit. Sildar and Gundren hang back while the rest of the party marches forward to the mouth of the ravine. Hank tries to challenge Brughor to single combat, but as the crazed orc leader charges out of his tent, they all realize that these foes have very little in common with the honor-bound, hobgoblin warriors they fought before.

Brughor screams a string of profanities at the party and gets his berserk on. Unfortunately for Brughor, his orc buddies roll initiative very badly, and he takes a severe amount of punishment before anyone comes to his aid. He attempts to back off and regroup, but gets pounded into the dirt before he can take so much as a second swing.

Brughor’s troop is really not feeling the whole “burn Phandalin to the ground” thing, so they collect their guard buddy and scamper back off to their homeland. The party has suspicions about the orc’s captive, so Ander proceeds into the ravine alone, protected by their ring of mind shielding. They hope. This whole time, the ring has been whispering thoughts in Ander’s head, urging them to trust no one, and congratulating them on being so clever. Ander is growing to dislike this voice, but has yet to find a reason to remove the ring

The bard finds an elderly dwarf tied to the pole. He looks up wearily at Ander and begs to be let go. He claims his name is Nundro Rockseeker, and that’s he’s been through a terrible ordeal. Ander doesn’t buy it, but summons Gundren anyway. Gundren is overjoyed to see his older brother alive and wants to free him immediately, but Ander says not so fast. Earlier Gundren had stated that if either of his brothers might have escaped, it would be his younger, sprightly brother Tharden. Nundro claims that he escaped while the Black Spider was busy dealing with the monsters down in the cave. From the sidelines, Hank scribbles a note and flashes it to Ander, telling them to check for arrow wounds (a poor intelligence check means the monk misspells both words, but his calligraphy is exquisite). Ander finds wounds on the dwarf’s arm and torso, but there are many other wounds surrounding it making a positive ID difficult. Nundro acknowledges that the orcs roughed him up, and begs to be set free.

At this point, everyone except for Gundren remains convinced that Nundro is the doppelganger in disguise, but no one can prove it. They all gather round and to Gundren’s horror, Hank decides to test his theory by beating Nundro unconscious. He pummels the dwarf, who takes a surprising amount of damage before crying out “Enough already!” They find the doppelganger’s black armor and scimitars in the tent alongside Brughor’s spoils, and Nundro shifts his face to that of the female drow agent, angrily submitting to the party.

Unfortunately, no one can decide what to do with the shape-changer. If they leave her, she could escape and ambush them later, but if they take her, even restrained, she can still read everyone’s minds (except for Ander’s). Hank wants to just kill her, since shape-changers freak him out, but other argue that she hasn’t actually killed anyone (yet), and that she may be able to help them navigate the mine. She tells them that Black Spider is in fact a drow, accompanied by some bugbears, Iarno Albrek, and an unknown number of giant spider servants. She adds that the mine itself is full of dangers and monsters, and the Black Spider is down in the deepest reaches of the mine trying to unlock its secrets.

Sildar proposes a deal to the doppelganger, whose name turns out to be Vyerith: if she accompanies them and does not betray them, he will tell her where they buried her brother. She agrees to the terms. They cut the pole off at the ground, leaving Vyerith bound to the stake, and take a short rest before continuing on their way.

Defeated: 7 orcs, 1 orc berserker (dead), i doppelganger (captured)

Acquired: Doppelganger, orc spoils, 3 bottles of perfume

NPC’s met: Brughor Axe-Biter (deceased), Nundro Rockseeker Vyerith

Quests: Deal with the doppelganger, help the Rockseekers retake Phandelver, rescue Nundro and Tharden

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Session 12: Phandelver? I barely know ‘er!*

*DM’s Note: We did not go anywhere near Phandelver during this session.

When we last left our party, most of them were settling in at the Stonehill Inn, looking for a much needed long rest, while Ander followed guildmaster Halia Thornton back to her house. Halia had successfully turned the town against Sildar and the Lord’s Alliance following the torching of the townmaster’s hall, despite Ander’s public questioning of her allegiances. After they caught Halia snooping around the Inn, they decided to risk having a quick little one-on-one chat in Halia’s living room.

After dropping off a highly secret note in Tipsy’s room, Ander was not the halfling Halia was expecting to see tonight. She civilly but coldly answers Ander’s inquiries about the town. She insists that the Zhentarim allow their members to operate autonomously enough to succeed, and Halia’s success hinges on Phandalin’s success. As for Ander’s relatives in town, the Alderleafs, they can leave if they dislike the way Halia runs the town. The last thing Ander wants to know is whether the note for Tipsy was professional or personal in nature; Halia breaks a slight smile and replies “purely professional.”

Ander bids Guildmaster and Townmaster-apparent Thornton a good evening and strolls out in to the chilly spring night whistling a bawdy tavern tune only to run smack dab into…Halia Thornton. Who comments, “Well you’re not the halfling I was expecting to see tonight…”

MEANWHILE, back at the inn, Gundren and his magic mustache disguise have checked in for the night with his college pal, Prof. Gnomebody. Tipsy remains passed out in her room, and the others hang out downstairs in the bar, mulling over the heavy events of the day. As late as it is, a few townspeople remain, discussing the town politics, and the revelation that Harbin Wester had been replaced by a shapeshifting monster. While Danquayle sullenly pokes at her steak fries, Hank spots a stranger at the bar: a young female dwarf in fine traveling clothes, nursing an ale. Hank challenges the stranger to an arm wrestling contest, which he wins, and as the dwarf buys them a round Toblin Stonehill remarks “’Ey Miss Rockseekre, these folks’ve been running all around town for the past few days, maybe they’ve seen your uncle?”

They gather around the stranger, one Mistria Rockseekre of the Waterdeep Rockseekres, who had received a letter from her eccentric uncle Gundren (her Guncle) urging her to come to Phandalin for something regarding her family inheritance, but she hasn’t been able to find him anywhere. They put their heads together* and roll a successful insight check, then determine that Mistria is who she says she is, and they take her upstairs to meet her uncle.

*DM Note: Mistria is actually our newest PC and this was her first session. The party didn’t really need to spend long establishing that she was not a monster in disguise, but I appreciate them going through the motions.

While the party is making new friends, Ander is carefully edging around the second Halia Thornton. This Halia states that she is surprised but happy to run into Ander out here, since they have unfinished business. Halia’s face shifts into the face of the drow that Ander had chased out of Cragmaw Castle earlier. The Halia/drow thing continues: during their encounter earlier, she looked into Ander’s mind, knows that they are the one who killed her brother! her face shifts to that of Harbin Wester, then to the grey, featureless face of a doppelganger. The doppelganger intends to capture Ander and submit them to their greatest fears, but suddenly realizes she can’t read the halfling’s mind anymore. Ander smugly waves the ring of mind shielding in front of their face, and the doppelganger draws her scimitars. Just behind them they hear the sound of a heavy-crossbow safety disengaging, and Sildar saying “I’ve heard enough.”

Crossbow bolts fly, and Sildar manages to pin the doppelganger’s cloak to a wall as she flees, but she wrestles free and escapes into the dispersing crowd in the center of town, effectively vanishing among the strange faces. With a shapechanger on the loose, Ander and Sildar agree that they need to stick together, but Sildar is a persona non grata in town. He dons the doppelganger’s black cloak and they sneak to the Stonehill Inn’s stables to gather the rest of the party.

Upstairs, the Rockseekers are having a small family reunion. Gundren had in fact sent a coded letter to Mistria’s family regarding his discovery of the lost mine of Phandelver, but after being abducted and held hostage he had honestly forgot Mistria might be coming. To make matters more complicated, he had also promised some of Mistria’s share of the mine to his rescuers on the condition that they help him regain the mine. Of course he notes that Mistria, a trained fighter, will be a huge asset in taking the mine back from whatever forces the black spider has there.

Their discussion is interrupted by a rock bouncing off the window. Hank throws open the shutters and catches the next rock Ander had thrown, then somersaults to the ground to see what’s up. Hank doesn’t take the news about a doppelganger impersonating townspeople very well.

“How do I know you’re not a doppelganger?”
“Hank…”
“How do I know I’M not a doppelganger?”
“HANK!”

Eventually, they resolve to go, as a group, to Halia’s house, which they figure is the safest place in town. Halia refuses to open the door again, ESPECIALLY upon learning that a shapechanger is on the loose. Sildar has misgivings about placing Gundren and his map to the mine in the home of the mining guildmaster who ALSO is a Zhentarim, and also does not feel safe in Halia’s home himself. Halia insists that her door has remained locked since she spoke to Ander earlier, and reminds them that she does have a magic seal that makes things explode if they’re opened when they’re not supposed to. They all back away from the door, and decide to abandon the Inn to spend the night at the Alderleaf’s farm. Keeping a close watch on the now empty streets of Phandalin, they proceed to the Alderleaf hay loft and finally take their long rest.

Defeated: doppelganger, or did they???? (they did not)

Acquired: sweet black cloak, glass brooch

NEW PARTY MEMBER: Mistria Rockseeker, Dwarf Noble Fighter

NPCS Met: No one new, but the drow agent was revealed as a doppelganger so that’s a development.

Quests: Deal with the doppelganger, help the Rockseekers retake Phandelver

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Session 11: Phandalin in Phlames

Grol is dead, Yegg is king cook, and goblin church is cancelled, so the party has gone to pick up the horse cart and gnome they left in the woods. Unfortunately, the ogre they duped earlier has caught up to them, and is now looking to make a meal out of their horse, with the gnome as an appetizer.

Luckily, Gnomebody has been browsing through Glassstaff’s spellbook while convalescing, and show off his newest trick by turning invisible in the ogre’s hand. Stunned, the ogre loses his grip on both the cart on and the gnome, and as Mr. Eddie Van Halen the horse tears off into the woods, the ogre takes off after him.

The gnome hides, Gundren fails to roll intitiative and stares at rock for a few turns, and Tipsy, still hammered on dwarven brandy, drops flat to the ground, somehow managing to roll a high enough stealth check to effectively vanish from the ogre’s sight. Everyone else dashes after the cart and ogre. They bombard the creature with spells and slings and other things, until Ander nimbly scrambles into the cart and brings the horse under control. Tipsy uses a turn to do some rogue shit and catches up to the fray, and then parkours up the troll’s arm onto his head.

As Taranion plunges Talon into the ogre’s belly, he catches nothing but the ogre’s filthy loin cloth, cutting it free and dropping it on the gnome, who has bravely rejoined the battle, but has suddenly tired of it. Gnomebody takes aim and fires three Hank’s-foot-shaped magic missiles at the ogre’s exposed undercarriage. The fight is ogre.

They calm down Eddie and pile into the cart, resolving to get the fuck out of the woods. Gundren wastes no time in greeting his old college friend Prof. Gnomebody, but he notices that Gundren has soot all over his hands and seems to be hiding something, physically, if not mentally. They share another draught of brandy and the dwarf comes clean: while the party was dealing with Lhupo and his goblin acolytes, Gundren snuck off into the darkened room and found something squirreled away in a cold brazier. He reluctantly hands over a gold statuette of a sun elf wrapped in a crimson cloth. Hank is displeased.

Gnomebody recognizes this as device capable of augury, but no one’s 100% sure how it works yet. Gundren’s like, what was I supposed to do, NOT rob a goblin church? As Taranion ponders the statue, Gundren says “I showed you mine, you show me yours” and wants to take a peek at the dwarven book Taranion pilfered from Glasstaff’s lab. He conveys that it seems to be a history of the Lost Mine of Phandelver by a fellow dwarf. Gundren bemoans that the book doesn’t mention the Rockseekers, who had worked in the mine since the beginning, but concedes that the rest of it is very accurate, particularly the retelling of the Phandelver Pact. Human wizards, gnomish crafters, and dwarven miners working under one roof, towards a common goal was a remarkable feat at the time, and remains notable to this day.

As the cart clears the woods and rattles on down the Phandalin trail, the party makes out a faint glow and smoke in the distance. They enter town to see the glow coming from the center square, where a massive crowd is gathering. Gundren takes the opportunity to go check in with Elmar Barthen for new clothes and gear and news of his brothers, so the rest of the party investigates the mob forming.

Once they reach the square they find the townmaster’s hall nothing but a pile of flaming rubble, but the destruction is limited to that building. They find Sister Garaele lingering near the edge, and she is very concerned about the direction events are taking, muttering “everything is playing right into her hands.” Ander has darted between the knees of the townspeople to reach the front, where standing atop a wagon Halia Thornton is rousing the people of Phandalin to action. Her goal: to cast out the Lord’s Alliance and run Phandalin as a free city, under her competent governance, of course.

Sildar Hallwinter stands with his back to the crowd, pleading with Halia directly. He claims that even though Iarno Albrek was a member of the Lord’s Alliance, the Redbrands and the bugbears who burned the hall down were not representatives of the Alliance. Sildar brings Ander up to speed: the bugbears he had encountered south of town (that the party had forced Glasstaff to send on a wild goosechase) had returned and freed Glasstaff, then burned down the hall in retaliation. The request for a Lord’s Alliance garrison to bring Iarno Albrek to justice had not likely reached Neverwinter yet. Sildar then begs the crowd to wait for assistance from the Alliance, stating that having an actual lord or noble in charge of the city will ensure its protection and prosperity.

Halia eggs the crowd on, asserting that Phandalin had been fine before the Lord’s Alliance began taking an interest in them, and that rather than protecting them the Alliance had only brought trouble. Ander j’accuses Halia, exposing to the entire crowd her relationship to the Zhentarim!

The crowd doesn’t know how to react. Halia coolly explains… the Zhentarim are merchants and tradespeople (technically true), and they only seek to protect their members and ensure profitability (in a manner of speaking). As a guildmaster, of course she’s in the Zhentarim. Furthermore, the Zhentarim give her access to resources, like mercenaries, to protect the town.

Halia quickly pivots and requests/demands that Sildar explain what the Lord’s Alliance came to Phandalin for in the first place. Sildar reluctantly plays his hand and reveals that he had come to Phandalin to aid in reopening a lost mine, hoping to create great prosperity for the town. Halia wants to know, if the mine was going to help the town, why was it still a secret? It sounds like the Lord’s Alliance is only looking to further line its pockets, and drain this town dry.

As Sildar starts to object, a clod of dirt smashes across his brow. Ander senses that it’s time to be scarce, and they guide Sildar out of the crowd as Occupy Phandalin reaches a crescendo. Halia is shouting plans for fortifications and next steps, calling for the hard work and sacrifice of the townspeople, as she unfurls the black, viper crested flags of the Zhentarim. As the party leaves the scene, Hank spots a man with two heavily bandaged legs sitting in the wagon behind Halia. Jarleth, the Redbrand lieutenant, winks at him.

Sildar is crushed. He perks up slightly when the party informs him that Gundren is alive and the map is safe, and he is happy for at least some good news. He feels it best for him to leave town at least for the night, and walks off into the darkness alone.

The party gathers back at the Stonehill Inn for a well-deserved rest, except for Ander,who lurks through the crowd to check on their aunt and cousin, the Alderleafs. Gnomebody catches Gundren as he returns from Barthen’s Provisions, clothed and toting a sack of mining gear (most of it stuff the party delivered a few days before). Gnomebody lets him know that things have taken a turn in town, and perhaps it’s best to check in to the inn under an alias.

“It is I, Funclub Stonesneaker, looking for my brothers Tharpo and Groupon”

Tipsy has passed out in her room, but is awoken by a note slipped under her door. As Ander returns from checking on their family, they spy the figure of Halia Thornton herself emerging from the inn. The halfling bard decides to tail the guildmaster back to her house…

COUP COUNT: 3 ASSISTED COUPS, 1 ATTEMPTED

Defeated: Ogre

Acquired: Gold statuette of augury, dwarven history of Phandelver, mystery note

NPCS Met: No one new

Quests: Find and reclaim the Lost Mine of Phandelver, also all the other sidequests

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