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 continues, 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.
XP: 225 each.