Lost Mine of Phandelver – Session 3: To Cragmaw Hideout

The third session of our Lost Mine of Phandelver campaign actually started to actually follow the book a bit. But first, we had to remove a few players, retcon a few shananigans, and get JJ back into George’s shoes.

Our vacation and family reunion is long gone. We’re all home and back to our regular schedules now, but JJ and Ghoti were still interested in playing more of this campaign. Ghoti still enjoys playing Hero Kids, of course, but he did enjoy the openness of Dungeons and Dragons, and Flash-o the rogue seems to have resonated with him more than a little. So, we found some time on a weekend a little while back to get another couple of sessions in with JJ on Skype, Kim and Ghoti in the living room, and a slightly strange setup with a three-way Skype call: Kim, Ghoti, and me at a table on the Xbox; an external webcam on my laptop aimed at a playmat on the table; and JJ at his house. Like this:

A screenshot of the Skype window as taken from my laptop

A screenshot of the Skype window as taken from my laptop

Accordingly, the party was a bit smaller than last time. We now have:

  1. Ghoti as Flash-o, the lightfoot halfling rogue
  2. Kim as Raelshel, the high elf wizard
  3. JJ as George, the human fighter folk hero

Before we got started, we had to rewind a bit. JJ understandably wasn’t too keen on picking up where B left off with George’s progress as a good-aligned hero who had been kicked out of their plot hook. (Read about that in part 2, here.) So, I worked out a reason that only required a slight backstep in our story so far; let George keep his money instead of paying a fine; and, most importantly, allowed George to remain in good standing with the local leadership of Phandalin.

Rewinding
So, we went back to when George regained consciousness in the jail in the Townmaster’s Hall. After he came to, Sildar noticed that he was acting like a completely different person. After some discussion, they determined he must have been under the influence of a spell that caused him to become so inexplicably and oddly aggressive. This seemed like it was probably related to the Redbrands they had attacked. They weren’t sure what happened, but they were inclined to think that George was back to his old self. He wasn’t fined, and wasn’t told to leave town.

The Following Morning (Redux)
Later, the new, smaller party gathered at the Townmaster’s Hall to meet up with George and found that he was back to normal again. He had made amends with Sildar, he apologized to Raelshel, and they were left to their own devices in the small mining town of Phandalin. After talking with Sildar and Harbin, they had acquired a few potential next steps for their adventure: they knew about the goblins that had ambushed them, they had seen a sign about ridding the area of some orcs, and they knew that the Redbrands were at least a local issue for the folks in town. Flash-o was interested in hunting down the Redbrands and getting revenge on their leader who had previously tried to have him killed. George, on the other hand wanted to tackle one enemy at a time: The goblins were the threat they had initially encountered. The party agreed to head to the goblins’ hideout first. Sildar told them that he knew where to find the cave the goblins were living in and gave them directions. He also shared with him the rumors that these goblins were known as Cragmaw goblins—because they file their teeth to sharp points. (The party knew about these sharp teeth, having extracted a few when they killed a few of the goblins that ambushed them a few days before.)

Preparations
Before hitting the Triboar Trail to get to the Cragmaw’s hideout, George wanted to pick up a few supplies. He purchased several flasks of oil and some lamps. Then, hoping to channel his inner MacGyver, he purchased some rope and bought some time in a woodworker’s shop. He attempted to lash a sharpened goblin tooth to an arrow for a fancier arrowhead, hoping for improved damage. Unfortunately, his calling clearly wasn’t in tinkering. Instead of a fancy new arrow, he ended up with a bleeding hand and a broken arrow [Ed: Really bad rolls in a skill you’re not proficient in can have bad consequences.]. Not completely deterred, he got some practice at tying oil flasks to arrow heads in hopes of essentially creating long range molotov cocktails, successfully creating a heavy, unbalanced—but potentially exploding—arrow.

In Front of Cragmaw Hideout
The party followed Sildar’s directions and found the cave without incident. A slow stream of water came from the cave. Beside it was a ticket of low bushes. On the other side of those bushses from the party were two goblins that were obviously supposed to be standing guard, but they were distracted by something on the ground in front of them. The party took the opportunity to get the drop on them in this state. They ambushed the goblins with arrows and an ice spell, who quickly tried to hide in the bushes.

One of the goblins managed to disappear into the bushes. The other did not; its sword scabbard stuck up out of the bushes as it moved around. George took one of his oil arrows and tried to hit the slightly visible goblin, but it fell short, the flask of oil didn’t shatter since it got caught up in the plants.

Flash-o scrambled up a nearby tree and stretched out onto a branch to get a better view of the goblins. He fired an arrow at the goblin they could find, killing it.

Raelshel tried another Ray of Frost in the direction of the other goblin, directing it to where she saw it disappear into the thicket. The goblin popped up laughing at the missed spell and shot an arrow back at her but missed. It ducked back down into the bushes and tried to run off, running up a small mound of dirt up to the hillside—leaving itself completely visible to the party. It turned and realized it was much more obviously located than it thought and started to panic. George and Flash-o were laughing at the goblin’s poor hiding attempt and weren’t able to focus well enough to hit it with their arrows. Raelshel, on the other hand, was able to hit it with a blast of ice. At that, the goblin growled and ducked into the bushes again, taking advantage of a gust of wind that shook all of the bushes to find a much better hiding spot.

They tried firing blindly into the bushes to hit this foe. Flash-o climbed down from the tree to help investigate. They even started shouting at it to intimidate (or otherwise coax) it out. Raelshel used her Mage Hand to try remotely punching it. No one could find it this time.

Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires
Sticks, stones, and words hadn’t worked to get at this goblin. George resorted to another common language: fear fire. Calling out to the goblin, George ran through the bushes, picked up his previous oil arrow, and started pouring another flask of latern oil in a line across the bushes. Flash-o came up next to him and lit a section of it on fire. They now had a small fire spreading into the thicket. The plants were healthy, and lantern oil isn’t made to burst into flame, so the building fire was slow, but seemed like it would continue to spread.

Raelshel approached and used a Prestidigitation spell to ignite the other side of the oil trail that George made. She happened to create her sudden, magical sparks right in front of the hiding goblin who popped up, startled. It instinctively shot an arrow at Raelshel, rendering her unconscious. [Ed: If you’re keeping score, yes, she has been knocked out in 100% of the fights she’s been in so far.] It then ran out of the bushes and motioned to indicate its surrender, but George was uninterested in this peace offering. The last thing the goblin ever heard was George saying, “you made me run,” and the twang of his bow just before an arrow struck it between the eyes.

Aftermath
The goblins defeated, George went to stabilize the unconscious Raelshel. She took a healing potion she was carrying, and took a moment to recover. George turned his attention to the fire they started. The fire continued to burn, slowly spreading. It was possible that the fire would burn itself out rather than engulf the side of this cave entrance in flames. It was also possible that a change in wind could start a raging fire right outside the cave they intended to clear out. He took out his sword and hacked a firebreak through the bushes to contain the fire, just in case. Meanwhile, Flash-o started checking the goblins for loot, finding a bit of gold and a strange wooden coin. The coin had an image printed on it: a shield with a lion’s head. He recognized it as matching the sign in front of the Lionshield Coster, a shop in Phandalin. They finished the firebreak, took a moment to relax, and got ready to head into the cave.

But that is an adventure for another day.

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