Well, it finally happened…
When we last left our intrepid crew, they were had cleared a side quest involving Orcs and gone back to town where they proceeded to go into quite a bit of role-play before being accosted by the local thugs. This should have led them down the main story arc, but no, they decided to continue pulling side quests.
They visited a banshee to bargain for information, successfully I might add, though it was a thin thing. Then they discovered a Necromancer, who although clearly an evil being, sought no current trouble or fight and they managed to role-play a peaceful resolution to which is good. It’s nice to get them to realize that they don’t have to kill everything that seems like it may be a problem. They searched out a Druid to find direction to the leader of the Cragmaw tribe who had abducted one of the PC’s cousins and found the location of a Dragon. They chose to ignore the Dragon at the time which is good because it surely would’ve killed them.
Finally, armed with the knowledge they’d gathered they made their way to the Cragmaw Castle where the Cragmaw Goblin Tribe was based from. They fought their way through many a peril and murdered many Goblins and a Grick. They discovered Hobgoblins and a captive Owlbear who they chose to leave locked up for the moment. Then, after clearing out most of the castle and discovering the desecrated alter which is one of the characters plot keys they made the fatal mistake. Having used many magics and caused many fights they decided that they should rest.
Likely, the entire group would’ve died had they continued to explore the final tower of the castle, but as it turns out they only gave the enemy time to prepare which nearly made their rest a moot point. That and the terrible dice rolls. I think if you were to judge the ensuing boss fight from the castle, out of perhaps 60 swings thrown by the party, they may have only connected about 15 times. The fight included a doppelganger who having rolled a natural 20 on his stealth check managed to sneak up on the Rogue of the party and with his bonus damage insert a knife into her neck which put her down immediately. The Bugbear leader of the Goblin tribe quickly began to layout heavy damage to the Fighters where the Cleric tried to tend to his wounded cousin (plot point). I’m not sure where in the confusion the Cleric got lost, but he never thought to heal the downed Rogue who eventually failed her death saves and perished. One of the Fighters also went down in this encounter but managed to stabilize on his own while the Cleric and other Fighter continued the Bugbear encounter.
The Wizard attempted to deal with the Doppelganger who fled into another room. He then turned himself into a Dwarf and opened a window before playing dead. The Wizard, took the bait and jumped out of the window to attempt pursuit only to discover he’d been duped. The Ganger went back into the room, assassinated the Clerics cousin and fled the scene with the Wizard (having realized the ruse) gave pursuit again. The party came to discover after finally finishing off the Bugbear that the Wizard was long gone and the Rogue dead. The Wizard put on a hell of a foot chase, but having run out of spell slots was forced to just give chase. Afraid that if he stopped his full pursuit actions and missed with one of his cantrips the villain would escape (I will admit, that was likely) he finally had no choice and hit him with a Ray of Frost. Something he should have done (not that he would’ve known) at the beginning of the case because the enemy only had 2 HP left from the fight.
The group, now faced with the loss of a member are attempting desperately to come up with some way using magic to save their friend, but to no avail. Their consistent grasping at straws led to this meme being used which sent me into hysterical laughter because it was sooooo accurate.
The group are now resting in the castle, two of the party having leveled up from the fight and one having died. The Wizard technically has completed his objective of the game re-consecrating the shrine in the castle, and has expressed his readiness to depart for home leaving the party at a severe crossroads. They want to return the corpse of their friend to her family in Phandalin and the Wizard wants to leave. This leaves me having to get at minimum one, but likely two new characters somehow plot hooked into the story which creates work for me, but also opens a lot of options that the party didn’t have previously, only using the pre-generated PC characters in the box. For good, or ill, the next session should be quite interesting.