The continuing adventures of the murderhobo group, Droop Troop
Spoilers for the starter kit ahead as our Party reach Cragmaw Castle.
After besting the Dragon Venomfang, the party finally have the location of Cragmaw Castle from the Druid Reidoth and hope to finally rescue the Rockseeker brothers. The castle itself is a dilapidated and crumbling and hidden away in the heart of the Neverwinter woods, having faded away from the locals knowledge.
Our party carefully avoided walking in the front door and proceeded to scout the outside of the castle, unfortunately for them Roland isn’t the stealthiest of comrades and drew the ire of an archer at one of the eastern towers. With no way to retaliate towards the arrow slits the archer was using, the party rushed towards the southern end of the castle where they found a locked gate. Milo quietly opened this gate as the party heard footsteps where they had just been noticed.
Our group can hear raucous voices to their west behind a large but decide to silently head in the direction of the tower which the arrows came from and ambush the 2 archers that had attempted to pepper them with arrows. After conforming the coast is clear, Milo headed back to west and peered through the door spying what appears to be the goblin mess hall with a larger goblin shouting orders while cooking. Milo sees that this head “chef” goblin has his back turned and promptly places a blade between his shoulder blades. The remaining Goblins within the room, seeing this, run away heading towards the front of the castle. Our team decide against pursuit and once again head towards the eastern section of the castle.
To the south of a the archers parapet, the party find a door with a large skull drawn on. Listening at the door they can hear a low growling and decide to avoid disturbing this room for the moment. They decide to press on North and hear two voices in a heated discussion, one a loud, growling voice seemingly demanding payment for something and a silky smooth reply. Listening at the door, the party hear the growling party is demanding payment for a map, which the party assume is the map for that Gundren initially held to “Wave Echo Cave”.
Peeking through the door they can see a Large, grizzled Bugbear holding the map in this hand, talking to a female drow Elf. Unfortunately for the party, the Bugbear leader, King Grol was also accompanied by his wolf Snarl who notices the party peeking through the door. A fight ensues and the party notices the body of an unconscious dwarf in the corner. Risywynn notices this as his cousin, Gundren.
The brawl is brief but bloody, with Roland quickly cutting down Snarl and the greater numbers quickly overwhelming Grol. As Grol fell, the drow is revealed to be a doppelganger who snatches up the map from the floor and runs towards Gundren with a blade drawn. Unfortunately for the doppelganger, her momentum caused her to trip as she lunged for the prone dwarf, missing her target and falling to the ground. Roland dived for the doppelganger in an attempt to grapple it,keep it on the ground and stop it finishing off Gundren and escaping with the map.
As this is occurring, a hobgoblin war band returns to the castle and comes to see King Grol. The hobgoblin identifies himself as Targor Bloodsword and that with King Grol dead, he was now the leader. With some very quick thinking, the party stop Targor from attacking them and convince him that since they’ve helped him become leader, they can come to some sort of agreement with the map and the doppelganger. Targor was willing to let the party go with Gundren, in exchange for the doppelganger and the help they’ve already given with his new position but the map stays. The party hit upon the fact that Grol was looking to sell the map and offer the same deal to Targor. Feeling lighter in the coinpurse, the party successfully leave with Gundren and the map while the doppelganger faces an uncertain future with Targor.
Wave Echo Cave
After a brief stay back at Phandalin, Gundren is left in the care of Sildar and the Party head off towards Wave Echo Cave, hoping to confront the Spider and find the remaining Rockseeker brothers Tharden and Nundro. Sadly for them, the search for Tharden didn’t take too long. As they enter the cave, the find the body of Tharden which they judge to have been dead for around a week. While searching the body for any clues, Roland discovered that Tharden was wearing magic Boots of striding and springing, which Riswynn was happy for Roland to make use of in Riswynn’s now quest for vengeance.
With the cave being Dark, and not all parties able to see in the dark, they are forced to take lanterns with them and no sooner than they step through the crack into the main cave, the are attacked by a swarm of Striges, a bat sized mosquito like creature which they easily dispatched. Our party then head south finding the original entrance to the mine and easily dispatching a horde of skeletons with the holy power of Risywynn’s Turn Undead Power. At a dead end they begin to head north and encounter 3 ghouls, which proved a harder challenge for the party but still they escaped unscathed. Milo scouts further north, and can make out a further 9 humonoid shapes in the darkness but without darkvision or a latern cannot make out what they are. After some deliberation that party pull back and head into the tunnels to the West.
It’s here that they first meet an Ochre Jelly, a gelatinous ooze that spots Milo scouting ahead by himself and attempts to absorb him. Unfortunately for the Jelly, the party isn’t far behind but it still manages to drain their stamina going forward. Our party exit the tunnel into a small cave with a pool and steam leading into an underground tunnel, they can see a large cave to the northeast, a door to their east and a room to their north. They decide to try and peak through the northern door, this is the fateful moment that they finally meet “The Black Spider”
“It seems that I must deal with you myself. A pity it must end this way”, the party face off against Nezznar, the Black Spider and 2 bugbears as Nezznar raises his hand signalling the bugbears to wait. Nezznar begins to quiz the party about what they actually want, to which the party ask the same question. Nezznar freely shares this information, that he wanted Wave Echo Cave for himself and was willing to use the Hobgoblins and the Redbrands to this end, he had heard of Glassstaff’s cowardice and was unimpressed. The party share that they have come to rescue Nundro and Nezznar clicks his fingers and one of the Bugbears heads into the next room returning with Nundro.
“I have a deal for you”, Nezznar elaborates that he has been unable to find the source of magic in the mine, and is thwarted by it’s guardian at every turn. “If you help me, the dwarf and your lives are yours”. The party do not trust Nezznar to keep his word and say as such, to which Nezznar laughs and agrees he is not to be trusted.
“Very well, here is a new deal, take the Dwarf and leave, help me with the guardian or don’t. If all you want is the Dwarf, leave us in the cave, I have the cave location and it seems others may already know it’s location as well. You will be one less hindrance” The bugbear tosses the battered Dwarf Nundro towards the party who is quickly ushered behind them to shield him from the Bugbears and the Spider.
With a hand extended, the Spider waits for the party to accept his offer. Milo steps forward and shakes the hand of Nezznar, and then suddenly pulls the Spider towards him to plant one of his daggers in his back. Nezznar pushes away with a shout of “FOOLS!” as the bugbears approach the party and the sound of chittering can be heard from the pillars above within the room. Four Giant spiders descend and head to flank Nezznar. Roland Launches forward using the boots he took from Tharden earlier and manages to Knock Nezznar out. The bugbears and Spiders however are not so easily deterred.
Nezznar however was right that he was not to be trusted, Nundro shimmers and reveals his true form as a doppelganger and not Nundro at all. Our party is now surrounded by a doppelganger on one side, bugbears and spiders on the other. Droop manages to bring down the doppelganger barring their exit from the door as further Bugbear reinforcements arrive from the western passage that Doppelganger Nundro came from and the party attempts to battle their way backwards towards the door they came through. After an extended melee, the party are nearly through the door when Riswynn is webbed by one of the spiders then badly injured by a bugbear, Roland attempts to pull him through the door but not before Riswynn’s wounds take their toll knocking him unconscious.
The party attempt to run back the way they came but 2 more bugbears have come from the eastern door that they ignored earlier, with nowhere to run, the party are backed into a dead end, placing Riswynn behind them in an attempt to keep him safe from further harm. Despite valiant efforts, the party members were knocked unconscious one by one with Roland being the last standing when he was paralysed by Spider venom. Frozen from the venom, Roland could see the Black spider, standing and clutching his side, grinning at them, his words drowned out by the cacophony of battle as Roland’s vision faded into darkness, the party lay in a darkened corner of a long forgotten Mine at the mercy of their enemy……