After being a bit critical previously about The Lost Mine of Phandelver as an adventure (and being criticized for that!), I thought I would redress the balance by sharing one of the best moments that I had running the adventure for my players.
So before you read any further – SPOILER ALERT – don’t read if you’re about to take part in this adventure.
The best moment we had running the adventure was after the party had rescued Gundrun from Cragmaw Castle. Our Folk Hero Fighter – named Kosef Raban – asked that the party make a detour to Thundertree so that he could fulfill his goal of restoring the village to its former glory. The party a bit reluctantly agreed – especially as Gundrun was keen to look for his brothers. On reaching Thundertree they met the hermit and started clearing the buildings of Giant Spiders and Twig Blights, and then they reached the lair of the dragon!
I think it’s awesome that Wizards included a dragon in their starter set – although a young one – as it gives a great sense of the potential epic scale of the game and also is an iconic monster – you got to have dungeons and dragons in Dungeons & Dragons after all don’t you!
The PCs managed to get into the building where the dragon dwelt without waking it and attack it while it slept. The combat was dangerous and the PCs were losing hit points, but then Kosef came into attack – he rolled a critical and did maximum damage to the already wounded dragon. Enough damage to kill it with one blow! As Kosef had dreamed of returning Thundertree to its former glory this was a great moment as he was the one to actually destroy the biggest threat to the village – the Young Green Dragon. As DM I decided that the killing blow decapitated the dragon and that its head was chopped off with a great sweep from Kosef’s longsword.
We all enjoyed that session immensely. Killing a dragon is such an iconic moment for D&D. Even though this was a side quest it actually felt like the most climactic part of the adventure as a whole.
If you’ve played the adventure – what was your favourite moment and why?
First a disclaimer –this isn’t a detailed review of the Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure module that comes with the new D&D 5th Edition Starter Box set, but rather a bit of a critique of it based on my own expectations for new Dungeons & Dragons.
What I’m saying is that I won’t offer a detailed analysis of the adventure or go into a lot of the details of what it’s about – so you if you want that have a look elsewhere – but rather I’m going to offer some views on why the adventure, although well produced, doesn’t work as I wanted it to – and how I think it could do more.
So a bit of a moan really! Here’s the problems I had with it:
It’s still pretty much a Dungeon bash. Although there’s some links between the different locations – finding Gundrun and looking for his brothers, once there the PCs just move from room to room and fight whatever they come across. There’s no sense of something actually happening.
The plot is a bit weak – sure help out Gundrun and there’s someone who wants to do bad things. But actually what has the Black Spider got planned? What will he do if the PCs can’t defeat him? We don’t really know. If they knew he was going to destroy Phandalin or Neverwinter, then I think that would add to the sense of drama – and the motivation to do something about him. As it is, the plot revolves around helping some dwarves get stuff – just facilitating greed at the end of the day! The lack of plot driving and adventure has always been a problem with D&D from what I can see, and this adventure really enforces that feeling for me – Warhammer Fantasy Role Play has always done a much better job of making players feel like they’re part of an actual story – and encourage roleplaying.
Here’s what I Iiked about it:
Great production values and art – lovely maps
Good tips for new DMs and how to help players get started
The pre-generated Player Characters are well balanced and have some good motivations that link to the locations in the adventure – but I think more could have been made of that in the actual adventure itself – as the DM might forget about the links and could be reminded by some help text in the adventure.
The encounters, monsters and fights are fun for starting adventures – some classic monsters are included, which allows new players to enjoy D&D as it should be.
I hope this critique doesn’t put people off actually getting the D&D Starter set though – it’s a great set, has a wonderful summary of the rules. I just wish I’d taken the time to add a bit more to the adventure to make it more plot driven and exciting!