Sir Curtas Sulazar (@keith) Human Fighter
Fannloy Roade (@twentynine) Human Cleric
Gelanúr (@songs_about_ducking) Half-Elf Bard
Gloran Hopback (@grievoustim) Dwarf Monk
Sir Kelross (@alex.hidell) Half-elf Ranger
Zana Dalanthan (@dingaling) Wood Elf Druid
As always, apologies for any errors caused by my failing memory or terrible notes. This session was the first true open-world one; there wasn’t really anything on the party’s agenda but to drop off the supplies. That made it a really fun and challenging session to DM, but I don’t think it’s going to be all that exciting to read about.
Rested and feeling slightly more powerful (level two), our heroes had rescued Sildar (their mate Gundren’s bodyguard) who told them Gundren seems to have been taken by request of The Black Spider and may have been taken to something called Cragmaw. They camped in the cave and were now ready to finish delivering the cart to Phandalin.
Part three: Let Sleeping Giants lie
After a quick bit of breakfast and a final check of the rocks, Sildar and the party headed off to Phandalin. On the way, Sildar told them in conversation about how he was once a member of the Lord’s Alliance - an order of knights who sought to bring peace and prosperity to the areas surrounding Neverwinter. That’s how he knows Iarno the wizard, he was also a member. He’s not heard from Iarno for some time now and he was supposed to be helping the village of Phandalin to get itself set up and thriving.
In a moment of vulnerability he told the party he felt he’d let Gundren down, allowing him to be taken.
They travelled an uneventful day and took turns taking watch in the evening.
The next morning, as Zana scattered food to woodland creatures and Fannloy took a proud open air piss, Sildar rushed the party back onto the road as they were only a few hours ride from Phandalin.
They arrived in Phandalin and saw that it was a small town. Some of the buildings were clearly much older than some of the others, there was a large ruin of a manor on a hill to the east and various trading stores and key buildings around the main street. No one really paid them much attention, the villagers generally keeping themselves to themselves.
As they parked the cart, they split up to explore the town.
Zana and Sir Curtas took Gundren’s goods to Barthen’s provisions. They collected the 100g reward, which Barthen thought was a bit steep and would’ve protested more about, but he was visibly shaken with concern when he heard about what had happened to Gundren.
He said Gundren’s two brothers were off scouting nearby and should be returning in a day or two.
He pleaded with them to find Gundren and also gave a gentle warning that the team might want to keep a low profile in town.
Meanwhile, Fannloy had headed to the Shrine of Luck across the road. When he saw Zana and Sir Curtas leaving Barthen’s, he knelt at the shrine and made some very convincing meditative noises.
As the three gathered at the shrine, they met a young half-elven lady named Sister Garaele. She greeted the party warmly and thanked them for their offerings of gold and flowers. The shrine is dedicated to Tymora - the goddess of luck and good fortune. Gareale had come to town to help spread the word of her goddess and provide whatever support she could to the village.
During some light interrogation, she revealed that the town was once a much larger settlement but was ravaged by an orc warband many years ago. Now, the town was starting up again after miners and loggers had started working in the area. She noted that Fannloy seemed lucky and was blessed by Tymora.
While this pleasant exchange of exposition was happening, Sir Kelross headed to the Lionshield Coster to drop off the other supplies they’d found in the cave. The shop had a threadbare stock of daggers and some satchels. The owner, a shrewd looking human woman named Linene, was pleased to see the goods arrive and paid a reward of 50g.
Eventually, everyone reconvened at the Stonehill Inn. A clean, respectable inn that was clearly well-kept. They exclusively sold beers from the Purple Star brewery as well as a simple food menu of game meat and vegetables. There was a warm fire roaring in the hearth. A cheerful human landlord, Toblen, and his halfling barmaid Freana were working and serving several customers.
As the first to arrive, Gelanur and Gloren got straight to drinking. Gelanur boasted about having fought a dragon, convincing the landlord, Toblen, but not Gloren. Toblen told them that an old adventurer named Daran lived at the Edermath Orchard in town.
As the rest of the party arrived, Toblen opened a tab and quickly did some maths. He had six rooms available, Sildar had booked one (and cancelled the booking for Gundren ) so that left five rooms for six adventurers. He loosely mentioned another inn in town called The Sleeping Giant, but strongly recommended they avoid it.
Zana decided she would rest in the bar area overnight, leaving the other incredibly chivalrous party members to sleep peacefully in comfortable beds.
As Fannloy merrily keeled over from drink, Gloren made friendly small talk with a couple of dwarven miners at a table near the bar. Like everyone else they’d spoken to that day, they hadn’t heard of The Black Spider or anything called Cragmaw. They assumed the party were in town to take care of the local orc problem that the Townmaster had put a notice up about. Before they turned in for the night, Gloren quickly nipped out into the night and tore the job advert from the notice board outside the Townmaster’s Hall.
REWARD: The orcs at Wyvern Tor need to be cleared. Help the town and earn gold.
The next day, the group split up again to follow various things they were curious about.
Zana, Fannloy and Sir Curtas stopped by to see Sister Garaele once again. Zana helped Fannloy pick some nice flowers for her, which he handed over before skipping away giggling. Sister Garaele backed up Toblen’s warning that the Sleeping Giant was indeed a shit-hole that was best avoided, especially as that’s where the Redbrands drank.
Zana and Sir Cutas then went to visit Daran, the old adventurer at Edermath Orchard. Daran, clearly happy to have an audience, prattled on about being a member of the Order of the Gauntlet, where he served as a smiter of evil and protector of the innocent. He was obviously proud of his time in the order and told the party that if he were still fit and able, he would take care of the damn Redbrands who were bullying this town. He called them ‘thugs with no honour’ and said the Townmaster was a coward for letting them get away with it. He also mentioned that some prospectors had fled the Old Owl Well, east of town, due to sightings of the undead. He told them he would be grateful to anyone looking into that.
Meanwhile, Fannloy had caught up to Sir Kelross, Gelanur and Gloren as they headed to The Sleeping Giant. They found the word of Toblen to be accurate, this was a crumbling dump, beset by vermin and weeds. When they entered, a group of eight armoured men with matching red cloaks (maybe these were the Redbrands?) all looked astonished that the party had just wandered in. The awkward silence was punctured by the dwarven landlady calling the party to the bar for a drink.
As they drank, they were aware of the eyes on them from the men in the bar. Whenever they tried to talk to the landlady, she quietly but aggressively tell them to shut the fuck up and, after two more men in the same outfit turned up, eventually encouraged the party to drink up and leave. It almost kicked-off a couple of times, as Gelanur tried to brag loudly about the goblin-destroying deeds of Sir Curtas, but they left before anything did.
The six of them all met up on the street outside and filled each other in on what they’d managed to find out. And still no one had heard of The Black Spider or Cragmaw.
They headed off to see the Townmaster, as it had been suggested he might know more than the villagers about the area. At the Townmaster’s office, they saw Sildar reading through records and scouring old maps, while the Townmaster himself, Harbin Westor, sat idly at his desk. He quickly realised the group where the ones Sildar had mentioned. He didn’t know anything that could help them find Gundren but he was very defensive when asked about the Redbrands, saying they were just local mercenaries who were helping protect the town. Fannloy tried to intimidate the Townmaster, but he puffed up his chest and protested that they were being unreasonable and unpleasant. He asked the party if they would clear the orcs from Wyvern Tor, offering extra gold if they left today.
Before setting off to clear the orc threat, Zana turned into a cat and wandered into The Sleeping Giant to do some eavesdropping. Unfortunately, all she gathered from the drunken Redbrands was that they were very pleased with themselves for having the town in their grip and that some of them had headed back from the ruined manor to the east.
The team stopped at Barthen’s and Sister Garaele’s before leaving. When they mentioned the Redbrands, Barthen told them they were bullying and extorting the townsfolk. He told them they were running a protection scam and anyone who stood up to them went missing, and so did their family. He did mention that they weren’t hassling the Phandalin Miner’s Exchange.
This same information was given to Gelanur as he bought a crossbow from the Lionshield Coster. It turns out Linene kept the good stuff in a back room, to avoid selling weapons to the Redbrands.
All stocked up on healing kits and new weapons, our brave adventurers decided to crack on to Wyvern Tor.
So, who or what is The Black Spider? Where is Gundren? What is Cragmaw? Where is Iarno the wizard? Where did these Redbrands come from and why are they selectively bothering the people of the town? What’s going on at the Old Owl Well? What awaits them at Wyvern Tor? Will Fannloy and Sister Garaele get it on? Did anyone notice Sir Kelross didn’t fall over this week?