The New Master of Cragmaw
The Party Makes a Daring Rescue

Fresh from battle, the heroes' sweat turns to steam in the cool damp of the cavern. As the party searches Klarg's lair, the chatter of rushing water can be heard from the passage to the north, which seems to mask all other sound. The torch gutters in this heavy atmosphere, and smoke from the bugbear's fire thickens the haze, creating an oppressive smog. 

Stedd summons the power of Valkur to restore Ad's vitality while Gertrude ponders the Lionshield supplies. She realizes that they must belong to the trading company out of Yartar which bears that mark. This goblin tribe has been busy, it would seem. 

The party turns to the north and a lone goblin appears at the mouth of the passage. He says: "the new Master of Cragmaw Cave bids you come forth for an audience with him in his chambers." Gertrude is nonplussed and replies, "sweetie, I think we're the new Masters of Cragmaw."

"We will see about that!" the goblin snaps. He throws something at the party and disappears. The party looks down: a human hand lies on the cave floor. The party surmises that it must belong to Sildar. Artex picks up the hand and examines it – it was cut recently, and from a living victim. He moves forward and peers into the northern cavern. A short staircase leads down into a large room, half-filled with two adjoined pools. A waterfall on the east wall fills the reservoir. Ad inches forward and holds his torch aloft, straining to see. Stedd descends the stairs and carefully scans the room. In the dim light, he catches a glint of metal: a goblin hiding behind a stalagmite? 

Trudy moves into the pool room and readies for combat. Two additional passages exit this room: one to the west, and one to the northwest. The pools are actually artificial, created by a low stone dam. "Come, come!" cries the goblin who had thrown the hand. He disappears down the western passage. Artex raises his bow to pick off the goblin hiding behind the stalagmite, but his arrow misses badly, and the goblin flees down the passage to the northwest.

Ad follows his mates into the room. As Stedd darts past the western passage he spots a bridge spanning a gap in the corridor. With no other adversaries about, the party forms up. Suspecting a trap, but seeing no other option, they cross the bridge and advance cautiously down the passage. It curves northwest, then bends back to the southwest, finally opening into a large split-level room to the south. 

A host of goblins stands ready, with bows bent at the party! From the raised area of the room, a seated goblin — Yeemik — barks out: "You've come at last! Welcome. You caught Klarg unawares, and I thank you for that — he was a nuisance to me. But I do not think you realize the jeopardy you are in. I have your prize here." He grabs the white hair atop the head of a naked man sprawled on the ground at his feet. The man winces in pain, clutching the stump where his right hand used to be. He has been badly beaten and is nearly unconscious, but still breathes.

"We've finished off most of your friends already," says Trudy in reply. "We can make a deal if you want: give us Sildar, your weapons, and all of these supplies, and that's the deal. Otherwise, we slaughter all of you."

The goblin captain cackles. "We will ransom the human for 100 gold pieces!" The tension in the room is palpable as the eight humanoids and a wolf stare down the party. 

"Don't trust him," moans the man. "Save yourselves!"

The tension breaks and battle is met! Artex fires an arrow at the goblin standing over Sildar, but misses. Ad uses an Eldritch Blast on that same archer, but his magic also misses its mark. The wolf leaps from the platform and charges Artex, delivering a vicious bite. Trudy swings her sword down upon the wolf in reply, dealing it a heavy blow, and it lets out a high-pitched yelp. Stedd conjures a sacred flame upon the wolf, who falls. The goblin archers fire a volley of arrows, hitting Artex and Ad. The foot soldiers hold back, apparently hoping the archers would drive off the party. 

Yeemik curses: "you will pay for your invasion! Kill them!

"This was a bad idea," Gertrude says, and a sense of doom descends upon the party. Badly wounded, Artex and Ad fall back, but each turn to find a target. The elf's arrow is well-placed, staggering an enemy, and the warlock's strange energies envelop him, his face frozen in a silent scream. To the astonishment of the others, Trudy rallies, steps forward with new resolve, and cuts down another goblin. Buoyed by the sturm und drang of battle, Stedd summons a second sacred flame, killing a third. Perhaps the adventurers can carry the day! 

But then the tide turns again: from the corridor behind, two wolves charge the heroes! In the distance, two more goblins stand at the far side of the bridge. Sensing this change of fortune, sword-wielding goblins spring upon Trudy, breaking down her stout defense. Yeemik notices the party edging away and calls out, "since you will not pay ransom, this human will DIE!" He pushes Sildar off of the precipice, who falls with a thud and lies dying.

Desperate, Artex reels around and lets fly at one of the wolves as it rounds the bend and the canine skids to a halt and collapses. Ad concentrates a blast of magic upon the other wolf, but to no avail. Gertrude moves on the remaining wolf, but it evades her sword. Stedd must choose: will he heal Artex or Ad? He chooses Ad, and his magic invigorates the warlock. Stedd then moves into a defensive position to protect Artex. 

Meanwhile, the remaining wolf pounces upon Trudy and knocks her prone. Artex fires at the animal to drive it away from Trudy, but he cannot thread the needle. Ad blasts the creature but does not kill it. He in turn moves forward to protect the paladin. Gravely wounded herself, Trudy clenches her jaw, stands and slays the beast.

Drawing again from his divine power, Stedd calls forth the Sacred Flame, but this time it has only a minimal effect. The goblins retaliate by attacking Stedd, dealing heavy damage. The party takes stock, and realizing they are in serious trouble, consider a strategic withdrawal to the other side of the bridge. Turning again, however, it is apparent why the goblins did not advance: while the party was occupied, they destroyed the overpass. 

Remembering the potions taken from the bugbear's effects, Trudy instructs Artex to hand her one of them. He reaches into his pouch and hands it to her as Ad attempts to hold the goblins at bay. She uncorks it and takes a deep draft. A healing potion! She immediately feels its power. Stedd disengages as he cannot survive another hit. Following Trudy's lead, Artex downs the second potion, and the magic elixir invigorates the elf. 

The party is revived! Ad risks a spell while in melee, and conjures another Eldritch Blast. This time, the effect is spectacular: crackling green energy shocks the goblin, who emits a horrifying shriek. Gertrude slashes through her attacker, slaying him instantly. 

Stedd holds fast; he is too hurt to attempt anything. The goblins do not appear, however, and Artex and Ad round the bend to see that the goblins have finally had enough — they have abandoned the area. Sildar lies motionless in the empty cavern, and the party regroups to attend to the unconscious warrior. Stedd kneels down and casts Spare the Dying. He is stabilized but does not regain consciousness. Underneath the blood and filth, it is apparent that Sildar is an aging but stout fighter of perhaps 60 years. 

The heroes are now in fact the masters of Cragmaw Cave. They make Sildar as comfortable as they can and survey the area. They do not find much — Yeemik and the other survivors must have taken their valuables when they fled the battle. Exhausted, the party elects to fortify their position and take a long rest.

The night passes uneventfully. Early the next morning, Sildar regains consciousness, and he thanks the party for their bravery. He is weakened by his ordeal, but he sits up to speak.

"I overheard the goblins speaking — I happen to know a bit of their foul tongue. Gundren was taken to Cragmaw Castle, where King Grol dwells. I do not know where that is. The Cragmaws are quite well organized for a goblin tribe. They act with a purpose I have not seen before in their kind. They attacked us as we rode down the Triboar Trail, and I was unhorsed by several shots — I'd call them lucky — and they overcame me. That has not happened in many years, but perhaps I've lost a step at my age…"

Gertrude questions him about Gundren's supplies and mining equipment, and Sildar replies: "yes, though perhaps we may discuss these matters in the light of day, and not in this darkness."

The party attempts to take the east exit, but realize that way is dangerous for creatures larger and heavier than goblins. Trudy manages to leap back just as the precipice begins to collapse. So they take the long corridor and climb down the cave wall where the bridge stood. Trudy nimbly makes her way down to assist the others. Eager to escape the foul cave, Ad slips and falls, injuring himself. Stedd pulls out a rope for Sildar, and Artex and Stedd lower him to Trudy and Ad. The rest make it down safely.

Outside, the party sees no sign of the goblins; even the one they had captured is missing. Sildar asks whether anything else was found, and the party notes the boxes and casks stamped with a blue lion. After some discussion, they decide to collect those supplies. They return to the site of yesterday's ambush and set about wrangling the oxen, yoking them to the wagon, and returning to the cave to collect the supplies. The work takes several hours, and the beasts labor under the prodigious load, but by afternoon they are again moving toward their destination. 

While on the road, Sildar opens up about his purpose. He tells you of the three Rockseeker brothers — Gundren, Tharden, and Nundro — and of their discovery, the long lost Wave Echo Cave, site of the Mines of Phandelvers Pact. The look on Trudy's face halts Sildar's tale, and he says, "I see this does not mean much to you. " But Ad's face is flush with recognition: he suddenly recalls some of the arcane lore that Barnabas had described in his veiled and sometimes erratic fashion. Excitedly, Ad outlines its history:

More than five hundred years ago, clans of dwarves and gnomes made an agreement known as the Phandelver's Pact, in which they would share a rich mine in a wondrous cavern known as Wave Echo Cave. In addition to its mineral wealth, the mine contained great magical power. Human spellcasters allied themselves with the dwarves and gnomes to channel and bind that energy into a great forge (called the Forge of Spells), where magic items could be crafted.

Nodding in agreement, Sildar continues:

Yes, times were good, and the nearby human town of Phandalin prospered as well. But then disaster struck when orcs swept through the North and laid waste to all in their path.

A powerful force of orcs reinforced by evil mercenary wizards attacked Wave Echo Cave to seize its riches and magic treasures. Human wizards fought alongside their dwarf and gnome allies to defend the Forge of Spells, and the ensuing spell battle destroyed much of the cavern. Few survived the cave-ins and tremors, and the location of Wave Echo Cave was lost.

For centuries, rumors of buried riches have attracted treasure seekers and opportunists to the area around Phandalin, but no one has ever succeeded in locating the lost mine. In recent years, people have resettled the area. Phandalin is now a rough-and-tumble frontier town. But now, the Rockseeker brothers-a trio of dwarves- have discovered the entrance to cave, and they intend to reopen the mines. 

My people, the Lords' Alliance, took an interest in Gundren and his brothers' discovery, and we sent an emissary, a friend named Iarno Albrek to Phandalin to look after them and to insure that the Cave did not fall into the wrong hands. That was several months ago, and I have not heard from him since. I was accompanying Gundren to learn what has happened. 

Late in the afternoon, the party rolls into Phandalin. As they enter the village, they come to Barthen's Provisions. They stop the cart and enter the shop. Inside, Elmar Barthen, the shop's kindly proprietor, greets them. He is astonished by the heroes' tale, but he dutifully pays the contracted fee. He doesn't have any information about Cragmaw Castle, and neither do his clerks Ander and Thistle. He suggests that perhaps Tharden and Nundro might know, and tells the party that they have been camping outside of town and returning to resupply. They haven't been back in a while, but he expects they should return again any day now.

While Ander and Thistle unload the wagon, Elmar does say in whispered tones that a gang calling themselves the Redbrands has moved into town in the last couple of months, shaking down local businesses and flouting the townmaster's authority. He hopes someone will do something about it, and mentions that they spend a lot of time at the Sleeping Giant Taphouse.

As the party bids good evening to Elmar and makes ready to depart, Sildar gives you a haggard look. Though his posture is strong and his gaze keen, you sense that his ordeal still weighs upon him heavily, and that he has finally reached the limits of his exertions. The incongruity of this noble warrior dressed in rags and covered in wounds and filth would be touching to even the most unsentimental cynic.

Sildar says: "my friends, I am bereft — entirely without means. I must stay here while Barthen drafts a Letter of Credit for my benefit, and then I will retire to the Inn. A weariness is upon me that I have not felt before…" he trails off momentarily, then recomposes himself. "I am in your debt. You have my gratitude and the gratitude of the Lords' Alliance for your service. I will not forget it. We will see each other again soon." 

The party continues on to return the stolen goods to Lionshield Coster. The Lionshield representative in Phandalin, Linene Graywind, thanks you profusely, and she offers to help you any way that she can. The party shows her the frog statuette, and she offers forty gold coins for it. They accept. As they depart, she too warns the party of the ruffians about town, who have made some trouble for her as well, and she advises the party to avoid the Sleeping Giant if possible.

As evening falls, the party repairs to Stonehill Inn. It is filling up with the local denizens of Phandalin…

Session XP: 125
Total XP: 350

Road to Nowhere
The Adventure Begins on the Triboar Trail

The famed City of Neverwinter! Known as "the City of Skilled Hands" and "the Jewel of the North," it was long regarded as one of the most cosmopolitan and civilized cities in all of Faerûn. It is no longer so high, having endured war, disaster and cataclysm. The decades-long process of restoring its former glory grinds on, while rumors of giants and wizards and dragons trouble the great captains and lords of the city.

But for you, neither its historic reputation nor its fragile rebirth holds much appeal: right now, it's just a muddy, crowded burg in which to spend your last few silver pieces. There seems to be little work for inexperienced adventurers such as yourselves. Maybe it is time to quit Neverwinter in favor of more untamed lands…

On Midsummer's eve, Gertrude Olafsdottir, Stedd Tallstag, Artex the Elf, and Ad Nauseam assemble at an unusual tavern in Neverwinter known as Ottos Shrunken Head. As the hand of fate guides the denizens of Faerûn, so it happens that these adventurers have some connection to one another. Trudy caught Ad cheating at a game of chance, while Artex once pulled Stedd out of the Sea of Swords. But those tales must wait for another day. 

Here and now, after talking its way past the establishment's put-upon bouncer (a huge half-orc), this unlikely quartet meets Gundren Rockseeker, a prospector of some reputation, who hires the party to transport his goods to a small mining outpost known as Phandalin. He plans to travel ahead with his friend Sildar Hallwinter, and needs a trustworthy driver and guard to escort his supplies and deliver them to Barthens Provisions. After making ready, the party drives South along the High Road, and then strikes East on the Triboar Trail. 

Alas, the rendezvous was not meant to be: about a day's journey from Phandalin, the party discovers the dead horses of Gundren and Sildar. Before they can investigate too closely, however, a small band of goblins ambushes the party! Black-fletched arrows rain down on them, surprising Trudy and Ad, and wounding Stedd. 

Reacting more quickly than their comrades, Stedd closes the distance and crushes one of the goblins under his warhammer while Artex looses an arrow that narrowly misses another. The downed goblin's companion counters with his short sword and gravely wounds Stedd. Another goblin fires an arrow at the elf, hitting him. Stedd retreats, takes cover behind one of the fallen horses and returns fire with his crossbow, killing another goblin. Ad, attacking for the first time, attempts an Eldritch Blast, but his spell fizzles. Artex exhales, levels his bow, and scores a critical hit, slaying the third goblin. The final goblin routed, he beats a hasty retreat, but he is no match for Trudy's athleticism; she catches him and runs him through with her longsword. 

Stedd is seriously injured and must rest. While Trudy lays hands upon Artex and restores his health, Ad searches the goblins. He reports finding 10 silver pieces, but generously offers to take a smaller share of the treasure, owing to his ineffectiveness in battle.

After this short rest, the party investigates the scene. It appears that the goblins have been using this area as an ambush point for some time, and that the horses have been dead less than a day. They determine that the raiders left the Triboar Trail to the northwest — presumably with Gundren and Sildar in tow.

The party resolves to follow the goblin trail to rescue the captives, for altruistic as well as more mercenary reasons. They hide the wagon, put the oxen to pasture and pursue their adversaries. Along the trail, Trudy observes a snare trap, and after pulling Stedd back from its clutches, guides the crew around it.

About five miles from the scene of the ambush, the tracks lead into a shallow stream that flows down from a rocky hill that appears in the distance. Following the stream, the characters find its source: a cave in the side of the hill, surrounded by briars.

Hidden in the briars, Ad discovers a pair of inattentive goblin guards arguing over a game of chance. Artex fires an arrow, but it glances off the goblin's shield. His parry was in vain, however, as Trudy steps forward and cuts him down. The other goblin connects on a desperate blow against Trudy, but Ad casts Eldritch Blast and knocks him out.

The party ties up the goblin and revives him for questioning. Under Trudy's gentle ministrations, the group learns that there are approximately 20 goblins in this Cragmaw lair. Observing the interrogation keenly, Stedd is convinced that the goblin is telling the truth. It turns out that the captain of this troop is a bugbear named Klarg, who answers to King Grol, leader of the Cragmaw Tribe. Grol sent a message that someone known as Black Spider has paid the goblins to capture Gundren and his personal effects (which specifically mention a map), and the King ordered Klarg to carry out the mission.

Using his darkvision, Artex peers into the cave's mouth to get a sense of what lies within. He sees an ascending passage that curves East, with two passages on either side of the main tunnel. Opting to rest rather than enter, the party fortifies the briar patch. Then, Ad suggests that he use a minor illusion to imitate one of the goblins and lure one or more of the tribe members out of cave. No one in the party speaks goblin, however. Undaunted, Trudy tries to convince the goblin to tell Ad how to say, "our shift is over, we want to be relieved!" The goblin resists her charms, so Stedd tries, explaining that the party is only trying to rescue the captives for contractual reasons. The goblin is still not convinced. 

Finally, Ad attempts to deceive the goblin by saying that the party is working for Klarg too, and that the attack was an unfortunate misunderstanding. Completely credulous of Ad's mendacity, the goblin tells Ad what he wants to know. 

Ad casts the illusion and leans in to determine its effect. He can't hear much; the running water masks most sound, but he thinks he hears what sounds like a dog whining. After a minute, a goblin appears to admonish the person calling for relief, but when he arrives he notices the hiding characters and readies for action. However, before he can move, Stedd casts Sacred Flame, which immolates him. He collapses into the water, steam rising from his charred remains. 

The party enters the cave and turns East up the stairs to find two wolves chained to a stalagmite. Artex crouches down and locks eyes with the alpha, whispering in the elvish tongue. The wolves whimper, soothed by Artex's voice. Artex observes that the wolves have been starved in order to keep them hostile. While they are focused on Artex, Trudy attempts to slip past, but something about her scent or movement rouses the wolves and they posture to attack. Luckily she scampers past before they can act, and Artex brings them to heel again. The others move past without further provoking the animals. 

In the rear of the cavern, Trudy and Ad crawl up a narrow chimney into a cavernous room. Stedd can't quite manage the ascent, blocking the passage for Artex. Trudy and Ad find themselves in the presence of Klarg, his pet wolf Ripper, and two goblin attendants! 

Sensing danger, Artex springs into action! He squeezes past Stedd and up the flue, leaps into the room, and fires his bow at the first goblin he sees, piercing his eye and slaying him instantly. Ad targets the other goblin, and crackling energy shocks him. The goblin hesitates, fearful of Ad's powers, but Klarg goads him on. He scores a hit upon Ad, who is now backed against a wall. Fortunately, Trudy strikes the goblin down. 

Klarg is enraged and cries out in anger, while Stedd strains to crawl upward again, and this time succeeds. He summons another Sacred Flame, this time upon the wolf, but Ripper shakes off its effect. Artex drops his bow, pivots with his axe, and strikes at the wolf, but misses. 

Ad focuses his next blast upon the wolf, and the wolf is staggered by the spell's power. Klarg howls with impotent rage, unable to penetrate Trudy's stout defense. The wolf, badly wounded and confused, bites at Artex, but fails to find his mark. Trudy slays the wolf with lethal precision. 

Now Klarg stands alone. Stedd moves into position and attacks the bugbear with his hammer, but Klarg evades him. Artex's axe falls short. Inspired, Ad focuses another blast, but deals only a minor wound. Incensed by Ad's magical attack, Klarg replies with a mighty swing, and Ad collapses to the ground. Trudy engages once more, and manages to clip him. Stedd marshals his strength but his hammer rings off of Klarg's armor. The bugbear is surprisingly nimble for a creature so large, and Artex again misses. Any hope for the bugbear fades, however, as Trudy drives her sword beneath his guard and delivers a critical hit. Klarg pivots to block Stedd, leaving him vulnerable, and Artex's axe finally connects, dealing another critical blow.  

Klarg swings wildly, but cannot hit Trudy nor escape the party. Summoning inspiration from her family name, Trudy means to finish him, but cannot. Grimly determined, Stedd brings his warhammer down upon Klarg's head, and the bugbear falls to his knees and slumps forward. 

The party revives Ad and inspects the cavern. Sacks and crates of looted provisions stamped with a lion's head are piled up in the south end of this large cave. The coals of a large fire still smolder in the center of the room, and the party finds a chest filled with copper, silver, a jade frog statuette, and two potions.

Session XP: 225
Total XP: 225 

Four Novice Adventurers In Neverwinter

Ad Nauseam: Evening, two days before Midsummer. A curio shop owner that you know, Pinwin, meets you in an alley near the Chasm. The idea of a secret meeting with her in a dangerous part of town piqued your interest; you've been impatient for some action since your mentor Barnabas Marsh suddenly left Neverwinter a fortnight ago. (He does that sometimes.) She seems uncharacteristically nervous and speaks in whispers. "There's a caravan headed south to the town of Phandalin. You know… Phandalin." Something about the way she stresses the name makes you uncomfortable. Has Barnabas ever told you about somewhere called Phandalin..? Before you can finish your thought, she continues: "a dwarf is hiring a small group to accompany him. There's a meeting tomorrow night at Otto's — 9 o'clock. You must go!" Without another word, she slips off into the night.

Gertrude Olafsdottir: Morning, day before Midsummer. Your Confessor, Edelmere the Just, has summoned you to his sanctum. He has seemed distracted lately, but this morning he clears his throat and comes right to the point: "a dwarf of my acquaintance called upon me yesterday — a friend of a friend, really. He wishes to hire a driver for a job. I represented to him your skill as a teamster, and he was sold. I'm afraid he was rather vague on the details — mentioned something about taking supplies south. But as your training is complete, and I am occupied by other matters, you should call upon this Gundren fellow yourself at a tavern with the uncouth name of 'Otto's Shrunken Head' off of Southgate Road. Nine in the evening, tonight." Edelmere dismisses you kindly but without ceremony and returns to his notes. "Justice brings Hope to the Innocent. May His Righteous Hand Guide Yours," he says as you leave his chambers.

Stedd Tallstag: Noon, day before Midsummer. Your petitions to join the Order of the Gauntlet have gone mostly unanswered, but perhaps that is about to change. Your contact within the Order, Mallory Luskan, wants to send you south. As she tells it, she's received a letter from a friend of hers in a small town called Phandalin by the name of Daran Edermath, who is some having some local trouble. She asks that you visit the community to investigate, and hints that your prospects of becoming a member of the Order might improve were you to do this favor for her. In her circuitous way, she adds that some dwarf brothers are hiring mercenaries to guard their supply wagon, and so, to reach Phandalin safely, perhaps you could sign on to their journey..? "Meet someone called Rockseeker at Otto's on Southgate at 9 PM," she finishes.

Artex: afternoon, day before Midsummer. "Hot spit and harpy vomit! There ain't never no rangers in this goddamn city!" You're not sure whether Santoro Alered is the most foul-mouthed halfling you've met, but he's probably close. How you came to be day-drinking and seated next to him at a reputable establishment like the Driftwood Tavern is anyone's guess — a chance meeting, as they say. "I know a guy — a dwarf! — who is lookin' for a bloody ranger. I told him, 'get bint, ya ham-fisted clincher, you ain't gonna find one in this town, not especially this time of year.' But here y'are, as plain as the hair on my feet! He's having a confab of sorts tonight — around nine, I think. Place called Otto's down near Southgate. I bet he'd hire you on the spot!" In spite of his coarse exterior, something about Santoro's demeanor suggests a hidden gravitas, and you resolve to visit Otto's.

Welcome to Phandelver!
A pregame report

Hey, guys – I've played around with Obsidian Portal for a while, but I haven't actually used it in a game context yet, so I'm still learning about its features to interact with a group. While I get accustomed to the tools, have a look around, check out the map, and/or create your PC.

If you're having trouble thinking up a character, for some inspiration, check out these pre-generated characters and character sheets.  You can also find a nice custom character sheet here

Cheers, Sam


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