Dungeons & Dragons Online

Lost Mines Of Phandelver: The Tresendar Manor Clown Car (Area 2: Barracks)

Content of the article: "Lost Mines Of Phandelver: The Tresendar Manor Clown Car (Area 2: Barracks)"

Tactically speaking, the barracks (Area 2) in Tresendar Manor is a disaster. There are four empty squares in a room with three occupants in it. There are two sets of bunk beds in a space that has a 10 foot ceiling, meaning combatants can't stand on them. The other side of the room is piled with boxes. Running a combat within this room is like running a combat in a clown car. So what's a DM to do?

If you just said to yourself "draw them out, you dummy," I like the cut of your jib. Meet me below deck.

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Did you know that unscientific studies have concluded 9 out of 10 players prefer to get stabbed as infrequently as possible? As such, your players may seek to control the method for how the ruffians enter Area 1 (Cellar) from Area 2 (Barracks). This means a bottleneck, where players will expect Glasstaff's greasers to cherish the idea of getting stabbed in the face as they attempt to fight their way out of their cramped dwelling. BOR-ING. You need some options to get the ruffians to more wide open spaces to be murdered in.

  • Recommendation: Post a guard. I already mentioned this in my previous write-up, but it's silly that one of the smartest cookies in The Lost Mines Of Phandelver (Glasstaff) doesn't lock the door to his lair and leaves the entrance unguarded. Take one of the ruffians from the barracks and post him as an inattentive guard in Area 1: Cellar, with disadvantage (-5) applied to their passive Wisdom score. This gives players a chance to roll some dice and play with stealth and feel all badass. Oh sure, they may nail their checks, neutralize the guard quietly, and still set up the same problem with a combat in the barracks. BUT, they may also screwed the pooch on their attempt, giving the guard time to call for help, or at a minimum, die very noisily. Posting a sleeping guard in the cellar acts as a fun obstacle on the way to the barracks, or anywhere else in the manor for that matter, should they decide to skip the barracks.
  • Recommendation: Hug it out! If the players insist upon bottlenecking the ruffians into the narrow 5×15 foot stretch between the Area 2 door, the cistern, and the north-side barrels, have the ruffians emerge with open arms in an attempt to grapple, rather than coming at the party with drawn swords. Any ruffian that succeeds his grapple attempt can use the remainder of their move action to haul their hug-buddy into the cistern for a swim, creating an additional challenge for any player who goes into the water wearing heavy armor. To give the grapple attempt a better chance for success, have one of the other ruffians use a Help action to (if successful) give the grappler advantage on his attempt. Never officiated underwater combat? Well, here's your chance!
  • Recommendation: Bar the door & call for helllppp! If the ruffians in the barracks are wise to what's going on in the cellar, but remain trapped in the barracks, they could throw themselves in front of the door and make it a strength contest for the players to force the door open. Have the ruffians call loudly for help from the other side of the door. This has the potential to put your players on edge, forcing them to consider the prospect of ruffian reinforcements and switch tactics for Area 2. Never mind the ruffians are calling for help through a 5-10 feet of stone walls, with the closest help 40 feet away in Area 5. The thickness of the walls means there is little chance their calls for help will be heard. But here's the fun part: will your players realize that? Mine did not. Maybe you give the dwarf in your party a moment to shine by baking a DC 15 History passive check for their stonecunning, where if they meet the threshold, they realize there's no way those cries for help are getting through these lovely stone walls that are, by their expert dwarven estimation, at least 5 feet thick. Seriously, your dwarf could talk lovingly about stone walls for hours on end. Anyway, if your players are not privy to such information and therefore switch up their strategy based on the prospect of reinforcements that won't actually arrive, it could give the ruffians time and space to emerge from the barracks, or eventually offer to parlay through the door.
  • Recommendation: Jump across the cistern to an open space. This option would first require the 2 squares leading up to the Area 2 door to be left unoccupied by the players. If this is the case, the ruffians could perform a standing jump diagonally from one lip of the cistern to the other. I can't insert a map, but the jump would be from the southeastern corner of that second square outside the Area 2 door, to the southwest corner of the square diagonally across, traversing 5 feet of water. The corners of these spaces are a narrow ledge that are a part of the square the water is in, so a DC 10 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check would be required to stick the landing. Otherwise, the ruffian takes a bath on a failed check. On a successful check, however, the ruffian could either step off the ledge to an unoccupied square if available, or jump to an empty square in the vicinity if the adjacent square is occupied. Depending on how players are positioned on the battle map, this may open the ruffians up to opportunity attacks. But if they survive those opportunity attacks, the ruffians could bolt for the stairs or the secret door in the cellar's southwestern corner, setting up a chase. Much more interesting than being murdered in a bed.
    • Rules you need to brush up on for this recommendation:
  • Recommendation: Open the Dungeon Master's Guide! Shove Aside is a variant combat action from the Dungeon Master's Guide (pg. 272) that, for all intents and purposes, functions like the Shove attack listed in the basic rules, only the target is shoved 5 feet to the side, rather than shoved back. The rub: Shove Aside is attempted with disadvantage by the attacker. However, with a successful Help action from another ruffian, that disadvantage could be absolved, improving the chances that the targeted PC gets sent flopping into the cistern, this time without a friend.
    • Rules you need to brush up on for this recommendation:
      • Shove Action
      • No link to Shove Aside, since it's not in the Basic Rule set.
  • Recommendation: Open the Dungeon Master's Guide (again)! Tumble is another variant combat action from the Dungeon Master's Guide (pg. 272). It requires the ruffian to make a Dexterity (Acrobatics) check contested by the player's Dexterity (Acrobatics) check. If the ruffian wins, it allows them to dodge and weave through the target's space. Depending on how the players have their characters arrayed on the battle map, the ruffian may be able to tumble his way through a PC's space to an open square without leaving the PC's reach, and therefore avoiding an opportunity attack. But there has to be an unoccupied square for the ruffian to tumble to in order to accomplish this maneuver.
    • Rules you need to brush up on for this recommendation:
      • Dungeon Master's Guide (pg. 272)
      • No link to Tumble, since it's not in the Basic Rule set.
  • Recommendation: Open the Dungeon Master's Guide (yet again)! Overrun is another variant combat action from the Dungeon Master's Guide (pg. 272). It's a straight-up strength contest which, if the ruffian wins, allows them to run through the target's space. As with Tumble, this is reliant upon on how the players have their characters arrayed on the battle map. The ruffian may be able to push his way through a PC's space to an open square, without leaving the PC's reach and therefore avoiding an opportunity attack. But there has to be somewhere for the ruffian to run to in order to accomplish this. Tumbling is probably the better option for this type of maneuver though, since ruffians have a higher Dexterity than Strength. If you're of a mind to customize some of your ruffians beyond what's provided in their stat block (as I have here), then this would be a good option for a ruffian customized to be a brute. (No link to rules, since it's not in the Basic Rule set)
    • Rules you need to brush up on for this recommendation:
      • Dungeon Master's Guide (pg. 272)
      • No link to Overrun, since it's not in the Basic Rule set.
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Final Thoughts: extricating the Redbrand Ruffians from the cramped confines of the barracks will not only give you more space to set up an interesting, tactical combat; it will also showcase some tactics that the players can use themselves down the line. Combats can often devolve into toe-to-toe hack & slash until one side drops to 0 HP. By making your Redbrands more dynamic in combat, you can educate your players on the possibilities in combat without them even knowing it!

I really enjoyed writing these recommendations, so be on the look out for more of these Tresendar Manor tips if you liked this post. Consider giving me a follow if you'd like to see future tips in your feed as soon as I post them. And if you have other tactics to liven up this encounter with rules from the PHB or DMG that don't get a lot of use (or even Unearthed Arcana or other editions of D&D) , please share them in the comments below!

If you're just getting ready to run LMOP, I have other posts with advice for running the following LMOP adventures:

  • Goblin Ambush
  • Goblin Trail
  • Cragmaw Hideout, Part I
  • Cragmaw Hideout, Part II
  • The Sleeping Giant
  • Tresendar Manor (Area 1: Cellar)
Read more:  My kids spend much of the game complaining/fighting, but demand to keep playing??

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