Phandelver

Interlude: Stedd Tallstag
In Which Secrets Are Revealed to the Cleric

Daran and Grista approach the party after lunch. The dwarven woman fingers Stedd and says, "that's him! He started the fight! He was the one who broke up my doors and shattered my windows with his magic! Curse his sorcery!" Daran apologetically but insistently urges Stedd to make reparations. Privately, he tells Stedd that he must do the honorable thing and help Grista to repair the damage to The Sleeping Giant Taphouse caused by Thunderwave, and that there is more to being a member of the Order of the Gauntlet than killing monsters. Stedd very reluctantly agrees.The party makes arrangements to regroup later in the day, and Stedd departs with Daran and Grista. 

The remaining heroes watch the cleric anxiously as he marches down the road. 

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Monsters Under Tresendar
The Heroes Find More Than Redbrands in the Manor

The midday sun hangs at its zenith and a warm breeze rolls up from the south. High clouds wander in the blue sky as the heroes ponder the day's tidings. Lingering near the square, everyone senses a subtle shift in Phandalin's mood: an ominous tension has settled over the town.

Yesterday, townsfolk went about their business with a nod and a tip of the hat, but today, its people scurry past without so much as making eye contact. Some even give the party sullen looks. Apart from Daran Edermath and Pip Stonehill, none of the townsfolk has had any kind words for them.

They learned little from Townmaster Harbin Wester except that he blames them for last night's disturbance at The Sleeping Giant. Although the Redbrands are a nuisance, and probably a criminal organization, at least some — including the townmaster — seem to think that they are indeed providing a measure of security to Phandalin by maintaining the eastern Triboar Trail.

Meanwhile, Halia's offer of 100 golden dragons for eliminating "Glasstaff" is by all appearances a legitimate one, but what are they to make of performing a contract killing for a stranger? Fighting and even killing monsters and criminals is one thing, but taking a job as paid assassins is quite another.

The heroes know that there is work to be done in Phandalin, however, and they will face these trials, come what may. They resolve to return to Lionshield Coster in order to purchase some new armor and re-equip — the better to face the dangers ahead. Linene is at least pleased to see them again, which buoys their spirits. She offers her complete line of martial supplies. While there, they learn that at least some of the Redbrands have been recruited from the local population, which further explains Wester's reluctance to clamp down on their activity.

Freshly outfitted, they dine in the outdoors on this warm summer day. After a light meal of hardtack, the party considers its options. As they do so, Daran and Grista approach. The dwarven woman fingers Stedd and says, "that's him! He started the fight! He was the one who broke up my doors and shattered my windows with his magic! Curse his sorcery!" Daran apologetically but insistently urges Stedd to make reparations. Privately, he tells Stedd that he must do the honorable thing and help Grista to repair the damage to The Sleeping Giant Taphouse caused by Thunderwave, and that there is more to being a member of the Order than killing monsters. Stedd very reluctantly agrees.

The party makes arrangements to regroup later in the day, and Stedd departs with Daran and Grista. Without pursuing the boys for more information, the remaining trio decide to investigate the fragmentary lead Pip passed along that Redbrands have been seen in the nearby forest.

In order to avoid more unwanted attention, the party cuts through the fields on the south side of town and they enter the woods. It is dense and difficult to navigate, but the elf's senses are exceptionally keen on this day. As if to downplay his uncanny skill, he casually picks a daisy and places it behind his ear as he points to the evidence that men have been passing through the area. Sobriety has its uses, the ranger muses to himself.

Artex leads them north toward the hill upon which Tresendar Manor stands, and they find themselves in front of a sheer and rocky slope, dense with vines and briars. The trail ends here, however, and perhaps Trudy and Ad wonder whether Artex has lead them astray.

Untroubled, the elf's woodcraft again astonishes his comrades, as he catches a faint scent that leads him to a concealed tunnel. Trudy and Ad exchange a glance, and the warlock lights his torch without ceremony. Weapons drawn, they creep into the darkness. The narrow passage leads deep into the hill, and they follow it for one hundred feet and more.

The tunnel opens at last into a large and unnaturally cold cavern, and there, they catch a faint scent of decaying flesh. A crevasse divides the cavern's floor, and two rough stone columns support the twenty-foot-high ceiling. Two wooden bridges span the chasm.

A chill runs through the group as an alien cackle fills their minds — there is a creature communicating telepathically! "So, you've come! You stole the silver from your friends, didn't you…? I think the Redbrands know you're coming. Heh heh heh…"

From the darkness, the creature parleys with the heroes and seems ready to betray the Redbrands… for a price: it wants treasures, and the bodies of the party's victims. Trudy strains to see it and asks, "well, can we have a look at you?" The creature steps forward into the torchlight: it is a hideous, one-eyed nothic — an insane subterranean monster that hungers for human flesh.

The nothic presses his advantage: through his weird insight, he knows that Ad stole some of the party's treasure, and tries to sow discord among them. The party shudders with revulsion, but they feign interest in dealing with the monster, even to the point of trying to persuade it that they will give it what it wants. When Trudy expresses reluctance to deliver corpses, however, it grows angry: "I must eat! I must eat!"

Battle is met with the horrifying aberration! Its giant eye flares with a sickly light, and for a moment, Trudy feels the grip of its corrosive effect. But the blood of the Helder Clan runs strong, and she shakes off the creature's necrotic gaze.

The elf's vision penetrates the darkness and he targets the monster; the sound of steel piercing a thick hide followed by a howl tells the others that Artex has found his mark. Ad steps forward and sparks of green energy fly from his fingertips. His aim is true! The creature curses at the warlock. Gertrude charges the beast and brings her steel into the fray, and delivers a blow upon it. The beast flails its claws at Gertrude in reply, but the paladin's defenses hold.

Artex again fires his bow, but his shot is too cautious by half; aiming wide to avoid hitting Gertrude, he misses entirely, and his arrow glances off of the stone pillar and falls into the chasm. Ad dashes across the southern bridge in order to flank the creature, but this bridge is rigged as a trap, and it collapses under his weight! He falls, stunned and hurt.

Trudy again swings her sword but the nothic avoids her blade, and it slashes back at her with its filthy, razor-sharp claws, drawing blood. Artex hits again, further wounding the creature. Ad scrambles out of the fissure and, still clinging to the rock-face, he fires a desperate blast of mystical energy: the creature shrieks and falls into the chasm.

Ad descends again into the rift, this time more slowly, and discovers a chest filled with gold and silver coins, two potions, and a scroll. Atop all is a magnificent sword inscribed with the word "Talon," and whose hilt is worked into the shape of a bird of prey with outspread wings. Chastened by the encounter with the nothic and working under the watchful eyes of his companions, Ad suppresses a flash of avarice. The party hauls up the warlock and the chest.

Gertrude examines the weapon, and pulling it from its sheath, she sees a faint glow – a magical blade! Having browsed Daran's library the night before, Ad recalls a tome he skimmed that made mention of a weapon by this name: it once belonged to a great knight named Aldith Tresendar, known as the Black Hawk. Sir Aldith was presumed to have died fighting off the orcs long ago during great siege of Phandalin.

Trudy girds herself with this new weapon, and the party retreats back down the tunnel to recover. Artex keeps watch as Trudy and Ad bind their wounds and rest, and the elf chuckles as Ad again casts Fiendish Vigor upon himself. Ad in turn congratulates the ranger for his unparalleled skill in finding this passage in the first place, and offers to buy him a beer when this is over. "A domestic," he finishes with a small inflection. The hour passes without further incident.

They return to the cavern, and after looking down the two passages leading west, both having staircases leading deeper into the dungeon, the trio follows the corridor leading east. It ends abruptly after about thirty feet, but the party strongly suspects that there is more to this passage than meets the eye. They search and find a secret door that opens into a large, well-lit cellar filled with barrels, crates, and other supplies.

A large and deep cistern filled with fresh rainwater sits along the western wall next to the secret door through which the party entered. They inspect the cistern, and find a submerged packet about four feet under its surface. Inside of this well-oiled satchel is two potions, some gold, and a set of traveling clothes.

The party has been cautious to this point, but now they hear voices and fall silent. They approach the door and overhear an argument: one man is loudly telling others that a group of four newcomers killed seven of the gang last night at the 'Giant, and that he was lucky to have escaped with his life! He is imploring them to go to Glasstaff to report this threat.

After Trudy casts Shield of Faith upon Ad, and the party bursts in on the Redbrands! They catch them unready if not surprised. "That's them! These are the ones at the 'Giant what killed Phin and Clanton!" one cries. Trudy and Artex brandish their weapons while the warlock's calm but menacing voice unnerves the gang members. Before they can respond, or even fully realize what happened, Trudy and Ad disarm them.

The Redbrand who had faced the party at the 'Giant and saw what they can do is cowed and begs to be released. He offers to tell the party whatever they want if they will let him go, while the other two remain quiet. One in particular appears to regret his hesitation, and it is clear that he remains hostile.

"You can still save the prisoners!" blurts out the first. "What prisoners?" Trudy and Ad reply.

"The farmer's wife and kids! The one who got killed…"

Trudy presses him: "So, where are these captives?"

"They are through that door and down the hall, woman! Just let us go!" Questioning him further, they learn that Glasstaff and his workshop are in the level below, at the bottom of stairs leading out of the northwest part of the nothic's lair.

"Are you gonna let me go or not? You said you'd let me go!" Satisfied, the party lets him pass, though not before Trudy issues a final warning: "You ought to reconsider the kind of life you lead." He flees up the stairs and out the Manor's cellar door.

The trio turns back to their remaining prisoners and the bigger, uglier Redbrand says, "hey, asshole, why don't you let me go?"

"Because you have a filthy mouth," Trudy tells him, and the party ties and gags them, muffling a curse uttered at the paladin.

The trio then returns to the cellar, and they pass through the north door. It opens onto a wide corridor with sconces illuminating a hallway running west that ends in a copper-patinated vault. On the left is a small alcove containing a statue of a nobleman with a hunting raptor perched on his gauntlet. Following Gertrude, the party proceeds forward to examine the statue, but Trudy jumps back just a concealed pit trap falls open beneath their feet!

Carefully proceeding around it via a narrow catwalk, they approach the door. The ancient vault is engraved with the name "Tresendar." They enter the ornate but dusty crypt and see three skeletons, each propped against its own sarcophagus. Using her Divine Sense, the paladin confirms her hunch: the skeletons are indeed undead creatures.

Anticipating a trap, the party approaches one of the sarcophagi, and the skeletons leap to attack! Wishing that Stedd was there, they engage the bony warriors. Using Hunter's Mark, Artex carries away half of the first skeleton's ribcage, but Ad's blast merely disintegrates the corner of a sarcophagus.

For the first time in battle, Gertrude unsheathes Talon and issues a mighty thrust, but it passes through the skeleton's empty frame. Artex cannot miss however, and his second arrow shatters the skull of his target. The other two skeletons relentlessly swing their weapons, but Trudy and Ad dodge their blows. Ad attempts another blast, but spellcasting in melee again proves too difficult. Trudy swings Talon, and this time, the magic of the blade guides her strike home, knocking the creature back. Artex seizes upon the opening, and his third arrow crumbles it to dust.

The final skeleton draws blood, wounding Ad. Frustrated, he unleashes a Hellish Rebuke in reply, charring its bones. Trudy pivots to face this last skeleton, but misses. The ranger's fourth shot threads the needle and does heavy damage, nearly dropping the creature. The skeleton continues its assault upon the warlock and it drives him back toward the door. Ad shouts out a mystical command and raises his finger: the blast utterly destroys the creature.

The heroes inspect the sarcophagi and find three platinum signet rings amid the bones within.

The party decides to leave the dungeon to recover and regroup. Artex shoulders one of kegs of ale on his way out, but as they return to the cellar where they had tied up the Redbrands, they discover that their prisoners have escaped!

Stedd's help is needed to finish this job. Perhaps he has learned something useful while toiling with Grista…

Session XP: 250
Total XP: 725

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Sword Coast Drifters
A Rough Night in Phandalin

After returning the stolen supplies to Lionshield Coster and receiving the reward proffered by Linene Graywind, the party's eyes turn toward the warm light of Stonehill Inn, just across the town square. As they approach, the noise of merriment spills out into the evening.

When they arrive, Trilena Stonehill seems be expecting the group, and greets Ad, Artex, Gertrude, and Stedd at the doors. She tells them: "welcome! Your friend told us you were coming — he has made arrangements for you." Caching a glance of their state, she smiles and adds: "I'm sure you'll be wanting warm baths and a change before joining us in the common room. We've Phandalin's finest entertainment tonight!"

The party bathes and freshens up and returns to the common room, where they see a lively local scene: a fiddler and lutist are playing, and the crowd is in good spirits. They sample some of Toblen's Summer Ale, and find it to be uncommonly good for such a backwater establishment. Toblen knows his brewing arts, it would seem. Gertrude learns that their hosts are also from Triboar. Truly, this inn is a familiar and comfortable haven.

The adventurers are restless, however, and cannot surrender themselves to an evening of song and drink with the townsfolk; the knowledge that a gang of ruffians has been troubling Phandalin lights a fire within them. Gertrude and Stedd in particular seem unable to bear the presence of these thugs. Gertrude flatly asks Trilena to point out any Redbrands in the crowd, and in hushed tones, she directs the party to her husband Toblen.

While waiting for Toblen, Ad reveals his newly acquired ability to communicate telepathically with his comrades. They are impressed and imagine it could prove useful in the coming days and weeks. Toblen approaches and he confirms what Elmar and Linene had already told the party: that the Redbrands came to town a couple of months ago, and have been making trouble for locals since then. Toblen laments that Townmaster Harbin Wester has done little to reign in their behavior. But then he walks back his comments: he has a wife and child and a business, and he does not wish to stir up trouble.

The party decides to pay a visit to Sleeping Giant Taphouse. "Time to wake the giant," says Stedd as they march confidently down Tresendar Lane. There are a few lamps along the road, and dim light can be seen from several houses, but mostly all is dark at this hour. Bright stars shine down, however, and the party sees the mist gathering in the hollows and lowlands — it is a beautiful summer evening.

Four men wearing deep red cloaks loiter on the porch of the tap house. They stare down at the party, and one of them spits and says, "What do we have here? Some puppies, and a bunny too! Come here to bark at us?"

"Bunnies don't bark," Gertrude says. 

"We're on a pub crawl," Artex puts in.

The Redbrands tell them that the 'Giant is more of a private club, and tell the party that they had best move along. The two groups trade a few more insults, but the party is determined to go inside, and Stedd attempts to push his way past one of them.

Weapons are drawn and the night erupts into sudden violence! The ruffians' steel flashes at Trudy and Stedd, and the Redbrands draw first blood upon the cleric. Artex casts Hunter's Mark and fires an arrow, hitting one of the gang members. Stedd grasps the throat of one of his attackers and withers him with a horrifying necrosis. Ad invokes his enhanced Eldritch Blast, wounding another, and Trudy quickly dispatches him.

"Phin! Clanton! Get out here, we're under attack!" Four more Redbrands appear, ganging up on Stedd, Trudy, and the others. Perhaps wishing he was back at Stonehill enjoying a summer ale, Artex finds himself badly wounded. Stedd and Ad also suffer damage, but their divine and arcane energies strike back at their enemies.

Artex again fires his bow, but it is ineffective in close quarters. Stedd summons a Thunderwave, however, slaying two more foes. Ad's spell is disrupted by his adversary, but Trudy lands a critical blow, leaving her opponent reeling. The Redbrands turn out to be more formidable than the party had guessed, however, and their attacks bring down Artex while pushing Ad, Trudy, and Stedd to their limits. But they are still no match for the heroes' might and magic, as Ad's Hellish Rebuke kills another enemy, Stedd's warhammer finds its mark, and Trudy cuts through another ruffian. The sole surviving Redbrand runs off in the direction of Tresendar Manor.

Stedd revives Artex and the party searches the bodies. Though it was hard-earned, they find some gold for their trouble. They then walk into the squalid bar, and see that there are not many people at the 'Giant tonight: some miners, escorts, and other rough customers. All look stunned to see these four strangers.

A surly dwarven woman approaches to confront them. "What do you want? You are ruining my business! Killing my patrons! GET OUT OF HERE!" The party wants to question this person, but they are also wary of another confrontation. Stedd tries to get something useful out of her, but the dwarf remains hostile and keeps telling them that they are murderers and that the Townmaster will hear about this.

"Can I get a to-go cup?" asks Artex.

"No, ya pointy-eared dirt worshipper!" she says in reply.

"Well, we'll see you later," says Gertrude.

"I hope not!"

While leaving, they spot a figure darting between buildings and they attempt to pursue. The person eludes them, but Artex is able to track him to a large, well-appointed cottage on Old Forest Road. The party surmises that the cottage belongs to the Townmaster, and that their quarry has run to give him news. They elect to turn in for the evening.

When the heroes return to The Stonehill, however, it is apparent that word of the fight has reached the inn. The common room has emptied and the mood is grim and foreboding. Fearing retaliation from the Redbrands, the Stonehills apologetically ask the party to find other accommodations. They suggest that Sister Garaele, who presides over the shrine, or the half-elf named Edermath, who runs the orchard, may be willing to house them.

Stedd raises an eyebrow at the name Edermath, and says: "Edermath? You don't mean Daran Edermath?" His contact in Neverwinter, Mallory Luskan, received a letter from Daran, and sent Stedd to investigate. "The very same," replies Toblen. 

The party crosses the square and the green to the orchard, where they meet Daran Edermath. Stedd introduces himself as the man sent by Mallory to assist, and relates the events of the last few days. Daran invites them in for wine to hear more of their story. Once inside, Edermath tells them that there are many Redbrands, that they are using the ruins of Tresendar Manor as their base, and that they are lead by someone the gang refers to as Glasstaff, an alias no doubt.

The party inquires about their relationship to the Townmaster, and Daran expresses doubt the master understands the threat the Redbrands pose to the community. "If there is a deeper, more sinister relationship, I am not aware of it," Daran finishes. The heroes admit their need for a safe house in which to recover from their exertions, and Daran offers to put them up for the night. The rest of the night passes without incident. 

The next morning, to the delight of his guests, Edermath lays out a full breakfast spread: eggs, a rasher of applewood-smoked bacon, breads, muffins, fresh cream and butter. Though he clearly has respect and appreciation for their handling of the Redbrands, he says, "I must caution you: there may be some fallout from the events of last night. The townmaster may try to rally some of the townspeople against you, not because they have any great love of the Redbrands, but because they fear violence and chaos."

The party decides to confront Harbin. While trying to slip out of Daran's home unnoticed, they spot Pip, the Stonehills' child, and Carp Alderleaf, a halfling boy, playing in the Town Green. Pip approaches and exclaims, "you guys killed those Redbrands last night! I know you did. You guys are like heroes, right? I want to be a warrior too! My friend Carp saw some Redbrands coming out of the forest." 

"Shut up! You dummy," Carp punches his friend and the two of them run off. The party does not follow. 

The party plans a winding route toward the Townmaster's home, which leads them past the Miner's Exchange. The townsfolk they see avoid their gaze and hurry past when met — they seem fearful. They reach Harbin's cottage, but find that he is not at home.

After some discussion, they decide to pay a visit to Halia Thornton at the Miner's Exchange. They enter and see an attractive, sharp-featured woman sitting behind a desk. Without looking up from her work, Halia says, "you don't seem like miners."

"Well, I'm 20 years old," says Ad.

She fixes her gaze upon Ad; "so you are."

Undaunted, Trudy launches into a story about coming to Phandalin in the employ of Gundren Rockseeker. Halia listens with more interest to this information. 

"You had a run-in with the Redbrands last night," Halia interrupts. "You seem like you can handle yourself in a fight," she adds. "Well, we do our best," Trudy replies. Halia makes a few patronizing remarks, but she is clearly assessing the party, and she comes to her point: "I think I may have a job for you. The leader of the Redbrands is called 'Glasstaff.' You may have heard that name. I would like him eliminated. I will pay for this — 100 gold crowns."

Artex asks what the town master will think of this contract, and Halia smiles and says, "don't worry — I can handle Harbin."

Ad asks for the whereabouts of "Way Echo Cave," and Halia corrects him: "Wave Echo Cave? That is the question worth 10,000 gold pieces and more, isn't it? We here at the guild would all like to know where lies Gundren's discovery."

The party wonders aloud how many Redbrands there are, and though unsure, Halia has a curious reply: "there are some decent lads in the group; it's really their leader I'm interested in."

"Decent?" Trudy can hardly believe her ears. 

Halia underscores the point: "they are just mercenaries, and not so different from yourselves. They do what they are paid to do. I believe Glasstaff is behind their activities."

The party decides to explore the fragment of a lead they received from the boys — search the old forest at the foot of the hill upon which Tresendar Manor stands. But before they can proceed, an errand runner finds them and brings them to the Townmaster's Hall, where they finally meet Harbin Wester, Phanadalin's master.

The Townmaster's Hall has sturdy stone walls, a pitched wooden roof, and a bell tower at the back. Inside, Harbin — a fat, well-dressed country gentleman — is red-faced and angry: "what is the meaning of this disruption last night? Killing people in the streets? My goodness!"

The party pleads their innocence, but Harbin seems unmoved: "that's not what I heard. I was told you were threatening and tried to push your way into Grista's tavern." 

After hearing the party's story and their repeated assurances that they do not wish to cause trouble, he softens a little. "Well, it's an ugly business. We can't have this kind of lawlessness in Phandalin." He explains that there has been a lot of bandits and orcs on the Eastern Triboar Trail, and that the Redbrands have been protecting caravans, mail carriages, and some of the outlying farms and homesteads. 

As they speak, Stedd leans in and puts his foot on a chair in an exaggerated pose. His foot goes through the chair, and he makes a dramatic show of removing his foot from its trap, finally peeling it off and tossing it to the wall. Harbin is agape at Stedd's comical histrionics. "I think you folks better leave! I dunno what's wrong with your friend, but that boy ain't right." 

"Maybe you could set up a meeting with Glasstaff..?" Artex asks. 

"I don't know this Glasstaff, and I don't even know if he even exists," Harbin replies. 

Trudy sees his eyes dilate and a bead of sweat drip from his brow; she is certain that Harbin knows more than he is saying. But what can be done? He wants the party to leave. As Harbin tries to rid himself of these outsiders, who have become a nuisance, in walks Sildar Hallwinter

Sildar is much revived and greets the party warmly, but he asks that the party excuse them, as he has business with the townmaster. They exit, but Stedd lingers in order to eavesdrop on the conversation between Harbin and Sildar. Through Stedd's efforts, they learn that Sildar is indeed who he claims to be — a member of the Lords' Alliance who wishes to bring Phandalin under the organization's protection. He wants to be given an office within the Town Hall, and insists that he be afforded all due respect owed to the Alliance. He is particularly concerned about his friend and colleague, Iarno Albrek, who came to Phandalin some time ago. 

The townmaster in turn relates that Albrek had indeed arrived several months back, was seen in town for a few days, and had even spoken to Harbin about forming a constabulary. Ominously, Iarno was last seen on Tresendar Lane near the Sleeping Giant, and no one has seen or heard from him since then. 

Session XP: 125
Total XP: 475

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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

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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 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.

Session XP: 225
Total XP: 225 

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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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