Content of the article: "LMoP What Would Iarno Do?"
We had a really exciting session #2 last night! Quick background info for you – I'm running a game with 3 PCs: a dragonborn cleric of Selune (Life domain), a halfling rogue, and a human ranger. In the first session they did the goblin ambush and they cleared Cragmaw Hideout, rescuing Sildar Hallwinter. Since it's a smaller party most of the goblins were caught unawares while they were occupied and Klarg had less attendants. I'm gonna give a play-by-play of the party exploring Rebrand Hideout, but the quick version is they killed a lot of ruffians, all the bugbears, but not the Nothic, and they didn't encounter Glassstaff/Iarno at all, but they did take his getaway satchel from the water cistern. What would Iarno do after realizing that most of his hideout had been cleared by the party?
Super Long Version
Session #2 I decided to steer them towards the Redbrands. Sildar divulged everything he had on the Phandalin operation he's trying to run with Gundren. He talked about the cave, how Gundren has a map and should be relatively "safe" as a captive, and how he sent Iarno (human wizard) to Phandalin, but hasn't heard from him in months. Sildar doesn't know where Cragmaw Castle is but was hoping Iarno would. Toblen told them he has never heard of a Iarno, the only new thing in town is the Redbrands, a group of thugs that extort money for "protection". Sildar tells the party he has some free time and wouldn't mind accompanying them (I used his stats in the back of the module). He was a great sidekick because while he has 2 attacks, they do relatively little damage and he has a high health pool. He's also independently wealthy and is willing to let the party keep all the money and treasure they find. He sees this little adventure as payback for the party rescuing him from Cragmaw Hideout.
The party hears about Carp, who may have found a hidden tunnel in the woods, so they follow-up and find Colleen (I couldn't pronounce her name, so Colleen it is), Carp's halfling mother running the farm. who points them to Carp. Carp pointed them in the right direction (the woods) and then they ran into 4 Redbrand Ruffians at the edge of the woods, keen to keep their secret tunnel a secret from 10-year old halflings as well as wandering adventurers!
They easily dispatch the 4 ruffians with Sildar knocking the last one unconscious. They question him and he tells them quite a bit, in exchange for his life. He demands that they swear he will live in exchange for information, snarkily telling them he will know if they are "honorable" afterwards. He gives up Glasstaf's name, talks about bugbears, and of course mentions the 'Eye Monster' (which he has never seen and doesn't want to see). The ranger wants to use him as a guide, which he is not interested in. The halfling suggests leaving him tied up while they explore the cellars. Sildar is silent, but nods at tying him up. The cleric has no opinion. Ultimately the ranger and the halfling get exasperated with each other and the ranger slits the redbrand's throat. He gurgles the word "honorable" as he dies. Most of the party is disgusted with the ranger, who justifies his action by saying he was an enemy that would eventually be a problem they would have to kill.
Onto the Cellars! They used the secret tunnel which they found in the woods after a Knowledge (Nature) or Survival check – I told the PCs to use whichever was higher. Quick question – how do you decide which check it should be? Or should it just be Perception (which seems like the most useful skill in the game already???).
As they enter the tunnel I have the Nothic hiding behind a pillar whispering to them. His ability was a success and each player seemed pretty suspicious when I had them roll a Deception check. The Nothic was not interested in a fight against a party of 4, so he simply creeped them out and bided his time. The first door they checked was on the western side, south door with the bugbears. I decided since the party was at relatively strong strength, I would put all 3 Bugbears in the room. Especially since the party would have surprise on them, as they were taunting poor Droop.
The bugbears went down fairly quickly, one managed to knock Sildar down but the ranger stabilized him. They decided to hole up in the room and take a short rest. I missed a chance to make a classic 'DM Roll' where the party doesn't know what it means. Anyway, there was no reason for anyone to check on the bugbears and they kept an eye on Droop. The little faint-y goblin told them about the common room to the north and the halfling went to sneakily have a listen.
At this point I was a bit too stingy with details and from their perspective there was a lot more guys in the room than the module had written (4). They seriously made plans for 20 minutes on how they might be able to lure them out and use the dragonborns line of acid on all of them. Ultimately they ended up swinging the door open and surprising the drunken redbrand crew who were playing cards. They killed them all without getting a scratch (rolling at disadvantage, twice for each redbrand is rather tedious). Still the easy encounter had the right effect and they were feeling bold enough to keep exploring. The next room was silent leading to more stairs back to the main crevasse. They listened to the northenmost room and heard 'faint bubbling' noises which really spooked them. They decided not to open that door!
They circled back to the crevassee and I debated using the Nothic now. They had all taken some hits from the Bugbears and were much more bruised up now. I decided to simply have some more creepy telepathic communications. Only one of the characters has a detailed backstory, so I'm really grateful for the backgrounds which gave the Nothic something to use as a "secret". They quickly crossed to the eastern side (after stumbling into the crevasse but taking minor fall damage). On the other side they had an empty room with the cistern to inspect and I made some rolls in secret to see if the thugs in the next room overheard them. The party was talking fairly loudly at this point, mostly the ranger and the halfling so I had the ruffians surprise them!
Even with surprise, the ruffians aren't much of a threat and the party beat them in a bit of a boring fight. Without any spells or his breath weapon, the cleric was reduced to bashing with his mace. The ranger was similarly out of spells and simply swung his longsword. Even the halfling rogue had little more to do than disengaging and grabbing his bow to take shots from the corner of the room. Low-level combat is a lot of rolling!
I had them notice the satchel in the cistern after the fight because we were all a bit tired. They were confused by the contents, but happy to have a reward that wasn't just gold pieces or ornamental jewelry. The last major decision was whether to leave via the secret tunnel or to take the stairs up to the ruined manor. The party decided to take the secret tunnel, maintaining their secrecy (even though they were already in the bad guys hideout??). I reminded them of the telepathic voices, which I unfortunately couldn't do via Sildar because he was the only one who didn't hear the voice. They ultimately decide to leave via the stairs in front of them rather than risk "the voice", which made me happy because I was worried the Nothic could be a TPK situation.
If you've read all the way to this point, I hope it was entertaining.
So, the party left the manor and took a long rest at the inn. I don't want Iarno just sitting in his room waiting for the party when they return next session. He surely must have noticed that the majority of his hideout is canvassed with corpses – all his minions. Does he flee? Does he try and ambush the party? Does he send the Nothic after them? I know he wants to impress The Black Spider. I don't want him to do something too nasty, but something logical. Ideally I still want the party to kill him – they deserve some magical loot after all. The party did level up to 3rd level at the end of the session.
Any suggestions or ideas are greatly appreciated!
- Plot Idea to show PCs there are consequences. Need feedback. Too dark?
- Captured Glasstaff! Advice?
- Lost Mines Of Phandelver: Let’s Talk About Tresendar Manor
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