Dungeon Calling: The First Adventure

Dungeons and Dragons Cragmaw Goblins

In last week’s Dungeon Calling I wrote about how I was making a return to Dungeon’s and Dragons with the new Starter Set. I must admit I was equally excited and nervous about returning to roleplaying games; it used to be one of my favourite hobbies and I was scared to see how the two new players would take to it, especially as one was my wife and had voiced some apprehension about the process.

We played the first session of The Lost Mine of Phandelver, the Cragmaw Goblins. I am going to try and keep spoilers to a minimum but there is a good chance I may spoil some of the Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set for you so if you plan on playing it, you have been warned.

Well I’m proud to say it went really well, it’s always a good sign when you draw the session to a close and the first question is when are we going to play the next session? Everyone took to the concept of a roleplaying game quickly and the simplicity of the 5th edition rules meant that it never got bogged down or became too gamey, the rules where mainly in the background.

The only part the players haven’t yet got into is the actual roleplaying, this is to be expected as all but one of the players has never played an RPG before. The one player who has was immediately added an accent for his character, distinguishing himself from Cuthbert, the fallen lord’s son.

Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set Cragmaw Goblins Map

Almost immediately after starting the game my players got into the swing of things and even surprised me. When rounding a corner and finding two dead horses blocking the road, my player’s quickly suspected a trap and held back. What they did next was a bit of a surprise, the cleric used her thaumaturgy cantrip to make a small earth quake in an attempt to flush out any would be attackers. I thought I would make a simple intelligence check for the ambushing goblins to see if they could be tricked by such nonsense, the roll was so low I decided that said goblins where scared witless and made a run for it.

I had read a few reports online that this first encounter could be a bit tough, that having four goblins that could hide after every shot made for a difficult first encounter but with some lucky dice rolls from our heroes (and some unlucky ones from the goblins) the heroes made short work of three of them before the fourth surrendered. Our heroes then intimated poor Bob (who he became known as) to guide the party to the Cragmaw hide out and point out any traps.

I won’t explain every detail but I was impressed with the groups’ way of handling the entire adventure, from using burning hands to kill five goblins in one shot, to persuading the second in command to get the rest of the goblins to stand down while the fighter charged their Bugbear leader, they rarely made stupid decisions and embraced the adventure.

I was also highly surprised at their skill and dice roles. I was expecting the bugbear to make short work of the party but due to a combination of burning hands and a greataxe to the head, what I thought was going to be a difficult encounter lasted exactly one round. It was hardly the climactic end battle I was hoping for.

Who's afraid of the big bad bugbear? Not my party apparently!
The other weird surprise was how the party would trust a goblin turncoat to keep his word but mistrusted every human or dwarf NPC they encountered. No matter how I try and roleplay Sildar Hallwinter, the main quest giver in the next section of the scenario, my players think he’s up to something and is going to betray them at any moment.

In my last write up I wrote about how I was thinking of combining other adventures, mainly the Night Below, campaign in the Lost Mines of Phandelvar. After playing our first session, I’m already thinking this may be a bit too much, just trying to keep track of all the events in this first session meant I missed some small pieces of information. I still think I may plant some seeds but it’s not going to be a too much and will depend on what grabs the players' attention. The simplest thing to try is to change the orcs at Wyvern’s Tor from the Many Arrows tribe to the Black Skulls, throw in a few slaves and this could easily plant the seeds of books two and three of the Night Below.

But now our characters are enjoying a well-deserved night’s rest in a comfortable inn in the sleepy town of Phandalin, little do they know that tomorrow they are going to fall foul of the vicious Redbrand gang.

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