Things in Wayfork had returned to normal after Team TPK closed the Shadowgate. The dead stayed dead, which was a good thing, and the living stayed living, which was also a good thing, although it depended on who you were referring to.
Team TPK didn’t have much to do, and the old normal life didn’t seem to have much appeal after what they had been through. They endured several months of little happening and life was in danger of going back to normal.
About then Bonnie Basher received a visit from her cousin, Gundren Rockseeker. It’s not a secret that dwarven names like “Basher” and “Rockseeker” are not their actual clan or family names. Dwarves are a suspicious, secretive lot, and tend to adopt a second name that humans and other races seem to expect. So Gundren and Bonnie actually do share a clan name, but of course if you would to ask all you’d get would be hard stares, and maybe a harder boot up the backside.
Gundren and Bonnie had been close as dwarven children. Yes, all dwarves were children once, although the rumour they are born with beards cannot be confirmed or denied. Except by dwarves but if you ask expect hard stares and boots again. Anyway Gundren was all excited about a map he waved at Bonnie, but wouldn’t let her look at it too closely.
“Less people that know the better, but it’s something big!” he said. Bonnie, being a suspicious and secretive dwarf, agreed not to pry any further. Gundren wanted Bonnie and her adventuring company (Bonnie thought the phrase “adventuring company” made them sound grander than they were – especially as she had caught sight of Fizbo outside the window with his clown facepaint on entertaining children outside the inn) to escort an ox cart of supplies from Neverwinter to the frontier town of Phandalin. Seemed simple enough. Gundren was going to go on ahead to Phandalin and meet them there, after which he would tell them everything.
Bonnie called the others together, ready to try to convince them to leave their lives behind and follow her on a road to adventure, even if that road was going to be slowly plodded along with some oxen. She was gratified but not surprised that everyone agreed to become full time adventurers. She also knew that most of the party had a reason to journey to the Neverwinter/Phandalin area. Dasira, for example, had been receiving visions for weeks of a shrine to Lathander in a ruined castle near Phandalin being desecrated by goblins. Now it made sense to her, for here was the opportunity to go find that shrine. Tai Ni Dong was from up that way too, ten years ago he and his parents had been forced to flee the village of Thundertree when a nearby volcano spewed ash and lava for miles around.
Plans were made and the party set off for the coastal city Neverwinter to the north. On arrival they picked up the ox-cart and supplies and set off along The High Road south for a few days before turning inland on the Triboar Trail. They had only been on the trail a few hours when two dead horses were seen on the trail. Investigating triggered a goblin ambush, but Team TPK dealt with them easily enough. They also captured one of the goblins and charmed him.
From a note found on a goblin body they found out that someone called “The Black Spider” had hired the Cragmaw Goblins to capture Gundren and his map. The Cragmaw Goblins operated out of Cragmaw Castle, and also had a hideout near the Phandalin trail.
The party followed the track from the road back to The Hideout (avoiding a trap on the path). They were ambushed by goblin lookouts, but the goblins were no match for the party. One goblin was charmed, placed in a web over the cave entrance, and the web and the goblin were turned invisible. The goblin was then told to yell out for everyone to come out quickly. Some of the goblins, the bugbear Klarg who was the boss of the hideout, and some mangy half starved wolves charged out to fight the party in numbers, but were caught up in the invisible web. Dasira used her Radiance of the Dawn ability to channel her god’s power to kill all but one of the wolves, all the goblins, and badly injured the bugbear. A scorching ray spell from Fizbo saw the bugbear off and the last wolf killed. The caves were then explored and remaining goblins cleared out. These goblins were guarding Sildar Hallwinter, who had been badly beaten. Sildar was rescued and healed and the party took a long rest in the caves. Barrels, boxes and crates of goods belonging to the Lionshield Coster were also found in the caves. The party loaded them up on their ox cart for transport to Phandalin.
The charmed goblin had told Team TPK that Gundren and the seemingly important map he was carrying were taken to Cragmaw Castle. The goblin also provided the location of the castle, which was important for Dasira’s personal goal (reconsecrate the shrine to Lathander). However the party decided to continue taking the ox cart to Phandalin and complete that part of the mission.
On the way Sildar Hallwinter gave them some information about what Gundren was up to. It seemed that Gundren had discovered Wave Echo Cave, the location of the legendary Spell Forge. The Spell Forge was a magic item creator that amplified the natural magic of Wave Echo Cave to create powerful magic items in half the time. It was lost when orcs and evil humans attacked the humans, dwarves and gnomes who were running the operation, resulting in at least part of the mines where the Spell Forge was situated collapsing. Sildar also advised that Gundren and his map had been taken to Cragmaw Castle, ready for delivery to The Black Spider – Sildar did not know who or what The Black Spider was. Sildar’s reason for travelling to Phandalin was to find Iarno Albrek, member of The Lord’s Alliance who travelled to Phandalin two months ago to establish order there. Sildar is also a member, and was sent to investigate.
Phandalin is a small frontier town, the surrounding ruins show that it used to be much bigger. There is gold in the lands surrounding Phandalin and prospectors and explorers pan and look for gold in rivers, hills and old mines. They seem to find enough to make it worthwhile. However a band of criminals called The Redbrands has been making life hard for people in Phandalin. Guinnehas some history with The Redbrands, and would like to see them taken down (her personal goal).
Team TPK returned the goods to the Lionshield Coster, the Phandalin post is run by a sharp tongued woman of 35 named Linene Graywind, who rewarded them. They also bought two nets from the Lionshield Coster stores thinking they might be useful in combat. They then dropped off the ox cart and Gundren’s supplies to Barthen’s Provisions, the biggest trading post in Phandalin. It is run by Elmar Barthen, a lean and balding human male shopkeeper of middle age with a kindly manner. He was saddened by the news of Gundren’s capture and encouraged Team TPK to rescue him.
Team TPK also visited the Shrine of Luck, a shrine dedicated to Tymora the goddess of luck and good fortune, run by Igo Puepue‘s sister, an elf priestess named Sister Garaele. She asked the party to visit the lair of Agatha the Banshee, and present a jeweled silver comb to her in the hope that the undead spirit, something of a historian and sage, would answer the question about the current location of a spellbook belonging to a legendary mage named Bowgentle. The party agreed, as this fits with Goldirocks’ personal goal of making contact with Agatha.
The party met Halia Thornton who runs the Phandalin Miners’ Exchange. She would like to see The Redbrands taken down, but suggested that rather than kill them all it might be better to just “cut the head off the snake” by killing their leader Glasstaff. She offers the party a reward to kill him and bring her any correspondence you might find in his lair.
Igo met with Daran Edermath, a half elf retired adventurer who agreed The Redbrands needed to be taught a lesson. He also said he was looking for a party of adventurers to go to Old Owl Well to investigate rumours of undead there. This fits with Fizbo’s personal goal of wanting to have a look at the ruins of the watchtower there, as sometimes you can find magic items. Although most have been found, Fizbo thinks maybe some small item might have escaped notice.
The party then sought lodgings at The Stonehill Inn. Sildar Hallwinter was already there and now parted ways with the party, and gave them 50 gold pieces for rescuing him and escorting him to Phandalin. He is looking for Iarno Albreck, a member of a group called The Lord’s Alliance, who came to Phandalin two months ago to help the town become more “civilised”. However Iarno has not been heard of since.
Everyone you have met so far has said The Redbrands are a blight on the town and need to be eliminated. The Townmaster has done nothing about them however, and after The Redbrands killed the town weaver and kidnapped his wife and children, everyone has been too afraid to confront them.
At the inn the party heard from the son of the innkeeper that a local halfling boy had seen The Redbrands come out of a tunnel leading to the ruins of Tresendar Manor. The gang is using the cellars as a base, while spending most of their free time at a taphouse called The Sleeping Giant. The party got Carp, the halfling boy, to show them the tunnel and are about to enter.