Is everyone an orphan?

Now where were we?
Let's get us up to speed

Our intrepid heroes set out from Neverwinter on a journey to Phandalin. They were tasked with seeing a caravan of supplies delivered safely to Barthen’s provisions by their patron Gundren Rockseeker.

Gundren set off ahead of the party, with his bodyguard Sildar Hallwinter. The party discovered the dead horses of Gundren and Sildar, and tracked the goblin culprits back to the Cragmaw Hideout. There they rescued Sildar, defeated the bugbear Klarg, and learned of the existence of King Grol. Sildar told the adventurers that he believes Gundren has been taken to King Grol at Cragmaw Castle, along with the map to Wave Echo Cave, by order of the Black Spider.

The party continued to Phandalin with Sildar and delivered the supplies to Barthen’s. After spending a night and a morning in the town, they learned several pieces of information:

  • Toblen Stonehill runs the local inn. His barmaid Elsa mentioned a nearby “moon temple” overrun with bird-men.
  • A group named the Redbrands, led by a man named Glasstaff, has been harassing the people of Phandalin, throwing their weight around, and generally making a nuisance of themselves.
  • The Redbrands are believed to have a stronghold under Tresendar Manor.
  • Toblen’s wife Trilena said that the woodcarver, Thel Dendrar, stood up to the Redbrands but was murdered in the street. His wife and children have since gone missing.
  • The Redbrands hassle every business in town, except the Miner’s Exchange.
  • Daran Edermath is a retired adventurer who now keeps the orchard. He asked the adventurers to investigate rumors of necromancy at the Old Owl Well.
  • The townmaster, Harbin Wester, doesn’t consider the Redbrands to be a problem, but did ask the party to eliminate the Orc menace that has taken up residence at Wyvern Tor.
  • Sildar has not been able to locate his friend, Iarno Albrek, so has established himself at the townmaster’s hall to help bring order to the region. He asked the party to investigate the manor try and learn of Iarno’s fate. Additionally, he has encouraged the party to keep up the pressure on the Cragmaw’s, and has offered a rich reward if they are able to defeat the tribe. He holds out little hope for Gundren’s safe return.

Not long after this, the adventurers went to the Sleeping Giant tavern to confront the Redbrands. After defeating four ruffians, they continued on to the Manor.

After a victory over three resting guards, an unlucky brush with a pit-trap, and a brief skirmish with some skeletons, the party found themselves facing off with two guards in the cell room.

In the cells were Mirna Dendrar and her children Nars and Nilsa. She asked the party to free her and her family, and help her find her husband Thel, whom she had not seen for many days. The party was unable to force their way into the cells to free the Dendrars.

Now as our heroes quest to drive off the Redbrands, they are also in pursuit of keys to the cells…

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Polishing off the Redbrands
But where is Glasstaff?

Having found the Dendrar family, the party set out in search of a key to free the prisoners. Kassion Parathraxos used his dark magic to blast open the door to the armory and the party found spare Redbrand cloaks they used to disguise themselves.

Baffled for a short time, it was Kassion who found the secret door leading to the great crevasse. Here, the party found various provisions, which they took for themselves. As they explored the cavern, Rayne Moonflower discovered just how crisp and loud the apples were.

Two bridges stretched across the crevasse, and Magwyn’s examination of them determined they were sturdy enough. However, no engineer is she, for when Sir Ender stepped onto the first bridge it collapsed, he lost his footing, and tumbled into the pit.

This wasn’t entirely unfortunate however, as they found much treasure, and what would later turn out to be the body of Thel Dendrar.

After recovering from his fall and getting the party to the other side, Sir Ender and his companions found themselves negotiating further passage with the nothic, De’penn. While he would initially not let them past, De’penn’s starvation got the best of him. He betrayed his master and let the party past in exchange for a bushel of apples. He also revealed that the Redbrands’ leader was Glasstaff, and that Glasstaff works for the Black Spider.

Our heroes proceeded towards Glasstaff’s quarters. Searching his workshop, they found his alchemical dabblings, a strange looking book written in Drawvish, and a rat. In her attempts to communicate with the rat, Magwyn saw only fire and the symbol of the black spider. The party captured the rat, unsure how to determine its fate.

In Glasstaff’s quarters, the characters found more sinister evidence. The wizard had clearly fled in a hurry – perhaps he knew the adventurers were close. The party found a letter from the Black Spider:

Lord Albrek,
My spies in Neverwinter tell me that strangers are due to arrive in Phandalin. They could be working for the dwarves. Capture them if you can, kill them if you must, but don’t allow them to upset our plans. See that any dwarven maps in their possession are delivered to me with haste. I’m couning on you, Iarno. Don’t disappoint me.

Unsure of Glasstaff’s fate, the party turned to finding a way to free the prisoners. Cunning and strategy gave the party the upper hand as they surprised a group of drunken ruffians. While Grayscale Mountaindew was badly injured, he managed to fortify himself quickly. These bandits were destroyed but did not have what the adventurers needed: the key to the cells.

An attempt to use the same deception on Mosk and his gang did not work out quite as well. Sir Ender succeeded only in provoking the bugbears into a battle. Rayne at this moment transformed into a ferocious brown bear and immediately disemboweled one of the bugbears. Quickly the party was able to subdue the group but Mosk would not reveal anything other than their loyalty to the Black Spider.

Droop, the goblin that was with Mosk, was quick to ingratiate himself with the adventurers. He told the party that rough location of Cragmaw Castle in the woods to the north of Phandalin. He also offered to guide the group to Glasstaff’s quarters – an offer that was met with bonds and a gag.

Our heroes now had the key to the cells from Mosk and freed the prisoners. Sir Ender broke the news of Thel’s fate to Mirna. However, they were still grateful for their freedom, and told the story of how their home in Thundertree had been overrun by undead forcing them to leave their home and all their possessions behind – suggesting that an heirloom could be found there of some value as payment.

Now what will the party do? Where is Glasstaff? What is up with that rat? What are they going to do with Droop?

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Victory at Wyvern Tor

Our heroes secured a night’s lodging at Stonehill Inn in return for taking care of the red brand nuisance. However, despite having told Toblen of their success in confidence, they awoke the next day to find the whole town seemed to know of their success.

After interrogating Glasstaff’s rat and a quick humanitarian trip to the edge of town to set him free, the adventurers went shopping. Well, more selling of loot than buying. Although Magwyn did pick up a nice new falconry set for her owl.

A quick visit to Daran Edermath to learn more about the threat to the east and the party was soon on the road to Old Owl Well in order to determine what was going on.

It was a journey of a few days and upon the way the travelers were waylaid by a band of hobgoblins. The attackers were dispatched without too much trouble and our intrepid heroes were quick to learn that this attack was no chance meeting, but a group sent specifically to stop the party by the Black Spider. The group wisely chose to question the hobgoblins and were able to learn the location of the Cragmaw Castle. Perhaps there they will find further clues about what is going on in the area.

Another day’s travel brought the group to Old Owl Well. Initially all appeared quiet, so Kassion sent his Imp familiar to investigate and spied the wizard as well as many dead bodies. An attempt to burn the bodies only provoked the zombies to rise and attack the party. The adventurers engaged and started valiantly hacking down the undead horrors. Grayscale shifted the odds strongly in the party’s favor by turning most of the zombies away.

The wizard, outraged, emerged from his tent, demanding an explanation. The party began to parlay with him and while he revealed little about his intention at the well, he did express a desire to have the orcs in the area dealt with so he could be left in peace. He also requested that the party ask the Banshee, Agatha, who it was that built the tower in the first place. In exchange, he promised the adventurers information, although it was unclear if he had any to share or was just leading the group on.

Nevertheless, the fellowship agreed that taking care of the orcs was worthwhile if for no other reason that the reward promised by the town master in Phandalin. And so, the motley crew proceeded to Wyvern Tor.

Once again, the Imp was able to scout ahead along with Magwyn. A lone Orc guard was easily dealt with and Kassion and Magwyn proceeded to a cave mouth from which cooking smells and sounds of raucous carousing were emanating.

Magwyn, the closest the group has to an Orcish expert, attempted to lure some orcs out with a cunning deception. Which the orcs saw straight through.

An intense fight ensued. Magwyn and Kassion ran but were soon caught by orcs. Despite fighting valiantly there were too many. Grayscale strode boldly forth and blessed his companions with Selune’s touch. However, this was not enough. Soon Kassion and Magwyn both fell and orcs and an ogre overran the entire party. Magwyn was on the brink of death!

Grayscale, selflessly stepped away from the ogre. The ogre, Gog, swung his club at Grayscale and crushed several bones. Still, Grayscale was able to send out a prayer of healing and restore himself, Kassion and Magwyn, saving Magwyn from almost certain death.

Inspired by this turning point, Rayne said no more and transformed as she had before, into a terrifying brown bear.

It was not long after this that the intrepid warriors were able to subdue the orcs and Rayne was able to tear Gog asunder.

Finally, the last Orc, realizing he was lost, dodged out of Sir Ender’s reach and ran for the hills. Magwyn was not going to allow this orc’s escape and cleanly finished him with an arrow at 20 yards.

And now, the adventurers rest in the lair of this former Orc band. Recovering their strength as night falls, they enjoy the relative safety of the cave, and the surprisingly good provisions the orcs had plundered from the area. Now, far to the east of Phandalin and Cragmaw Castle, will the group continue to visit Agatha for the old wizard? What information will they seek from him, and what is he doing at the tower anyway? And when they make it to Cragmaw Castle, will they find Gundren Rockseeker alive?

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Selune's Temple
It's character building

Having dispatched the orcs of Wyvern Tor our heroes returned to Hamun Kost, the necromancer at Old Owl Well. Kost informed the party as to the identity of the Black Spider: he is a drow named Nezznar. This name was unfamiliar to the adventurers, yet Sir Ender’s spider amulet started to grow heavy at the mere mention of Nezznar’s name.

The group continued their journey west, intending to return to Phandalin, while embarking on a number of quests along the way.

They visited with the banshee Agatha, who turned out to be much less frightening than anticipated. Agatha helpfully informed the party of Nezznar’s whereabouts: that he had taken up residence within Wave Echo Cave, and that he ultimately commands the Cragmaw goblin tribe. As she diminished from the material plane, her eyes locked with Kassion’s, and she announced his doom was at hand!

Suitably traumatized, our heroic wanderers sought out the temple of Grayscale’s patron, Selune, which had been rumored to be overrun with “birdmen”.

Upon reaching the temple, it was soon clear these were no rumors. First a lone scout gave way to a group in the central courtyard. These were no lowly foes, but the adventurers prevailed nonetheless. After cleansing the center of the temple the group noticed that the compass carved into the central column faced the wrong direction. Kassion detected that there was an enchantment upon the column.

Our heroes continued their search of the temple grounds and came upon Elsa, the barmaid from Phandalin, bound and gagged in one of the out-buildings. She told the adventurers of a figurine that the Kenku had stolen and hidden somewhere in the temple. Promising to return her safely to the village after the temple was cleared, the adventurers untied her and moved on.

Soon they came upon a harpy’s lair in the south building. A battle ensued and the harpy was driven off, badly injured. Amongst her lair the adventurers found a variety of stolen artifacts.

Now the band has little more than the great hall of the temple itself to face before being able to restore Selune’s honor in this place. What manner of foul beast lurks within?

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Back in Phandalin

Having taken a rest after taking care of the resident Harpy, our intrepid heroes ventured into the central temple building. Kassion sent his imp familiar in to investigate, but the sound of its wings beating gave it away and the two Kenku playing dice disappeared into a back room.

Assuming the upper-hand to be theirs, Magwyn, Sir Ender, and Kassion advanced. The steps to the temple were covered in ball bearings, but with the reflexes of cats the trio were able to keep their feet. However, the Kenku got the jump on the adventurers. While Magwyn got a quick shot off and hit the Kenku leader, a volley of arrows soon had our heroes reeling.

The tide quickly turned in the party’s favor. Magwyn’s arrows flew true. Sir Ender’s sword swung cleanly. Kassion’s magical flame found its mark. Rayne’s spells crippled her foe. Grayscale dropped the leash of their goblin companion, Droop and brought his healing touch to the party, hurting from the ambush.

Once Magwyn dispatched Chaza, Droop saw his opportunity for riches and ran forth into the middle of the melee. He quickly found an item of great value and made a run for it.

With their leader dead, the remaining Kenkus started their retreat. Unfortunately, they were trapped, so had no choice but to run past the ferocious band. Soon they were all cut down, with the final Kenku reduced to nothing but an ancient pile of dust by the terrifying grip of Grayscale.

By now, Droop and his loot had nearly made it out of sight, but eagle-eyed Magwyn shot him clean through the leg, stopping him in his tracks. A search of his body though, revealed he had simply stolen the Kenku leader’s belt buckle.

While searching the Kenkus’ belongings, the group came upon a broken jade owl statue. A statue that Magwyn recognized from her past as the very same that she had touched and been banished for. Somehow this statue is yet of importance, but how? Who could tell them, and where is the second half?

After returning to Phandalin, the merry troop exchanged their spoils for some shiny new supplies, and reported back to the town master on their success. Sildar also congratulated them, but implored them to keep up the pressure on the Cragmaws – “Gundren may yet be alive! We must find that poor dwarf!”

To relieve the burdens of the journey, the heroes retired to Daran Edermath’s orchard and discussed what they had seen. He was grateful to learn of the activity at Old Owl Well, and thrilled to hear the adventurers’ stories. Impressed by Sir Ender’s valor and righteousness, he offered (and Sir Ender accepted) induction into the Order of the Gauntlet.

What will happen next? What lies in wait at Cragmaw Castle? Who knows them meaning of the owl statue? And what other darkness lurks under the surface, in Phandalin?

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Infiltrating Cragmaw Castle

Having rested up in the company of Daran Edermath of Phandalin, the adventurers decided to strike out at Cragmaw Castle.

The three day journey to the castle was surprisingly quiet and on the dawn of the fourth day, the party came to the edge of a clearing. Within the clearing stood the castle they sought. They surveyed the sight before them. An aging castle with tall towers flanking a central entranceway. The south tower was substantially damaged, with one whole side in near total ruin. Kassion sent his imp to investigate the ruined tower. Impy turned invisible as he approached. The ruins of the tower made it difficult to see a hanging beam, into which the imp flew. Impy turned visible, fell to the ground, and landed with a thump. The adventurers held their breath … And heard the outraged screams of goblin sentries.

Our heroes prepared themselves for the onslaught, and as the first goblins rounded the corner Rayne and Magwyn loosed a volley of arrows. Grayscale hurled his javelin and impaled a goblin guard. As the goblin arrows started to rain down upon the party from the towers’ arrow slits, Kassion had no choice but to cut Droop’s leash. As Droop ran from the battle and disappeared into the surrounding forest, Kassion scorched the castle with his dark magic, causing yells of pain from within. Sir Ender valiantly charged past the towers to the castle entrance. Soon he was kicking down doors and running goblins through. As the goblins outside fell to the blasts from Kassion, the party followed Sir Ender inside. Soon seven goblins lay dead and our intrepid adventurers needed a short rest.

Once they had recovered their strength, Sir Ender and Kassion explored their surroundings. Kassion found a tripwire in the hallway to the east, which he easily disarmed. Meanwhile, sir Ender spied a gang of goblins gorging themselves in a dining hall. He boldly strode forth and tried to tell them that he was simply here for the food. The goblins wanted to know who he was and where he was from, but sir Ender was unable to convince them that he was not an intruder. At the command of their leader Yegg, the goblins let forth a hail of arrows at Sir Ender. Amazingly, only a single arrow hit, giving him a mere flesh wound. Realizing the danger Sir Ender was in, Rayne summoned an animal spirit and turned into a terrifying brown bear. She was soon tearing goblins limb from limb. Kassion ran into the fray and caught four goblins in a single blast, causing horrific injuries to each of them. Despite being outnumbered, the party soon prevailed and were able to continue their siege of the castle.

In the next room, the group walked in, but Grayscale found it eerily quiet and elected to stand back for a time. When it appeared the group was in no danger, he ventured forth and joined his companions. He inspected several carvings and determined that it was humans who originally built this castle. Before he could tell the party much more, a giant worm-like creature dropped from the ceiling and set upon the group. Still being in bear form, the ferocious Rayne Moonflower inflicted terrible wounds on the beast. Her nimbleness kept her safe also, for the one strike the creature was able to land left a large hole where once there was the flank of a bear. Soon the group was able to subdue the writhing creature and gather themselves once more.

Now they find themselves in some sort of outer shrine-room. Engulfed in darkness but for the flickering of Grayscale’s torch. What awaits them in the darkness? Where and who is King Grol? And is Gundren, their dwarf patron, still alive?

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Further into Cragmaw

Having recovered from their fight with the grick, the group was ready to continue their foray into the castle. Before Kassion could send his imp ahead to investigate beyond the curtain, Sir Ender pulled the curtain back in dramatic fashion. This revealed an apparently empty altar room. Sir Ender walked in to investigate, but too late was able to spot the glint of a metal arrow head. Six goblins loosed their arrows at Sir Ender, but only a couple found their mark. Sir Ender brazenly charged towards the goblins. He was quickly followed by Rayne the bear, and the rest of his companions. Rayne and Sir Ender made quick work of the first two goblins, while Magwyn picked them off with her longbow from the doorway. Soon sensing their defeat, the goblin acolytes formed a defensive circle around their leader, the priest Lhupo. Grayscale strode forth and brought a divine fire down upon Lhupo, instantly destroying the goblin priest. Soon the remaining goblins were dispatched and the room was quiet. Our heroes found valuable golden instruments the goblins used in their rituals. They liberated them.

Moving into the next room, the party found a store of old supplies. Most of these barrels looked rotten, and the stink of meat gone bad hung in the air. Holding their noses and avoiding spending too much time here, the adventurers couldn’t help but notice a suit of armor and some weaponry that looked out of place. Kassion recognized it as belonging to Sildar Hallwinter – the knight in Phandalin who had encouraged them to take down the Cragmaws and find Gundren.

Taking the equipment to return to Sildar, the group pressed on. Sir Ender found a locked door. He ran at it and struck it hard. It shook on its hinges, but did not break down. Rayne the bear took a mighty paw to it and the door exploded in splinters. On the other side, alerted to their presence by the failed attempt to break down the door, were four hobgoblins. Their arrows flew as Rayne charged directly in to combat, immediately decapitating the first hobgoblin with a single swift bite. The party threw all they had at the hobgoblins, and even Grayscale hurled his javelin right through the leg of one of his foes. However, two of the hobgoblins charged the bear and with powerful two-handed swings of their longswords dealt mighty wounds to Rayne. Her bear form melted away and she was Rayne Moonflower once more. Still though, the hobgoblins were well outnumbered and soon succumbed to the hail of blows from Sir Ender, and the crack shooting of Magwyn.

Collecting themselves, and the hobgoblins’ supplies, the gang continued their search of the castle. Finding many empty rooms, they sent the imp forth as a scout. Many more open caverns, filled only with old barrels, were explored until the adventurers came upon another barred door. After a few attempts it was Grayscale who was able to break down the door, and within stood three more hobgoblins with longbows drawn. Incredibly, Grayscale received hardly a scratch from the hail of arrows. He and Kassion caught the hobgoblins in devastating magical blasts. Magwyn dropped one hob-gob with an expert shot from her longbow, while another made a quick escape through a passage to the north.

While the rest of the gang fought the remaining hobgoblin, Impy and Sir Ender gave pursuit to the fleeing enemy. Sir Ender nimbly ducked past the hobgoblin in the room and disappeared down the passage after his quarry. He came to a door and found that his foe had barred it behind itself. The rest of the party caught up with him having vanquished the third hobgoblin and between magical fire and brute force they broke in the door.

Beyond they saw the hobgoblin standing with a massive bugbear, that could only be King Grol. King Grol grasped an unconscious dwarf by the throat and held a twisted dagger to its throat as he smirked at the adventurers.

Will our heroes be able to save Gundren’s life? What does King Grol want? Can the party make it out alive?

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