Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Phandalin Blues

Recently in my weekly 5th edition Lost Mines campaign the players were faced with a choice: continue to wage guerrilla war with the Redbrands -- a vicious gang who have taken over Tombstone ... er ... Phandalin, or strike out into the wilderness to seek their fortunes with only Ted the Goblin as their guide.

Bandits from F.A.T.A.L. by Steev
The vote came in 4 to 3 to stick it out and try and end the Redbrand menace.

I should mention too that I've added a new player -- a seventh grader who plays a human fighter / hireling, adding some much needed staying power to the party's otherwise squishy lineup of wizards and thieves.

Image result for d20I also hope that this will help grow some "bench strength" in our after school club so that when many of my current crop of players head off to high school next year there will still be a few students around who know how many sides a 20-sider has without counting.

Several social scenes followed in which the characters interviewed residents of the hamlet, looking for someone who could aid them in their cause, but they soon came to the realization that, apart from the brigands they were preparing to fight, they were the toughest hombres in town.

"I say we just burn it all down and leave town."

"But what about that little halfling boy?" [Carp]

"What?  [The halfling player's] son?  We should send him back to his mom first, then burn it all."

Eventually cooler heads prevailed and the party settled in to stake out the secret back entrance to Tressander Manor, the old ruin on the hill above town that served The Redbrands as a hideout.

Here I'll pull the curtain back on my GMing a bit ...

I said to myself, "Well, The Redbrands don't have any particular reason to be using the backdoor, but the players are taking initiative wit this plan so let's reward that with some action or progress."

I made a quick series of d20 rolls ...

First: "Which way would the backdoor be used?" odd = someone coming in, even =  going out.
Result: Odd.  Someone or something was headed in via the concealed door.

Second: "How long would the party wait to see this happen?"
Result: 15.  Pretty long.  Through the day and halfway through the night.  Hmm.  Who would need to use cover of night?  Maybe something that isn't human and doesn't like daylight.

"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain ..."
Third: "How strong a force is entering the hideout?"
Result: 14.  Fairly strong compared to the party.

Okay, how about this ... from the earlier interrogation of a prisoner the adventurers had learned that the Redbrands, contrary to their "humans only" rhetoric, actually had some secret goblin allies that listened to gang leader "Glasstaff".  These could be a pair of bugbears headed in as messengers and to relieve from duty other goblinoids lurking in the hideout.

The party launched an ambush on the "large, hunched figures that they saw moving stealthily through the thickets" and a high Wisdom roll even let one of the elves get a whiff of goblin from the dimly seen creatures.  A volley of arrows failed to bring either creature down, however, and they darted into the partially-concealed tunnel mouth.

At this point the group made a bit of a tactical mistake which could have proven deadly.  Rather than shift position after their initial attack, they decided to hunker down and keep watching the hidden backdoor ... which allowed the night-sighted bugbears time to gather a couple friends, slip out the front door, and flank the party in the woods.  Battle followed and only the clever use of a light spell (cast on an elven archer's arrow) allowed most of the party to eventually get some hits in.  The party's cleric was felled, but the bugbears retreated when two of their number took lethal arrow wounds.  The adventurers were happy enough at this point to pull back to the orchard at the edge of town and lick their wounds, having fought some pretty tough opponents to a draw.

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