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Rialacha Teach Mhorgunna

A heaping help of hit points

Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.
“Please Sir … May I have some … more???”

Last night, my crew was at long last at that section of Cragmaw Hideout from Lost Mines of Phandelver. It is the stuff of which separates the men from the boys. In different streams I have seen it do a TPK (Total Party Kill.)

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Basically, the party enters into a pitch dark cave. (My players are all humans and need a light source) [3] Sneek past three chained wolves. (The Barbarian threw them some food which would of given a bonus to mollifying them. But not leaving them chained up freed them. And doing so … made quite a racket.) [5] You then need to get past a distracted goblin guard. (Due to the noise freeing the wolves and the lights they were caught in the flood trap.) If discovered the goblins let loose a pool of dammed up water, which lets loose a surge that can sweep the characters and drive them out of the cave a little bit worse for wear. ( They got caught by one but managed to to hold on … they avoided the second wave by hustling it into the wolves cave. They retreated to the outside and waited 15 minutes and tried creeping in again. This time gave the goblins enough time to refill one of the pools. They survived the last flood but it made the pathway slick aka rough terrain.) Because the alarm was set off I moved 2 of the goblins to the bridge as archers. (The players moved smart using duck and cover to move their way up taking out a few of the goblins and final finished them off in the pool room [7]) [8]This leaves the last conflict with the Klargg the Bugbear, his wolf and two goblin snipers. (Unfortunately for the players the loosened wolves join the battle, complicating matters.)

I purposly gave them a bonding mini adventure on the zero session not only to build team comradery but to give them enough XP to make second level by the time they make it to the Cragmaw Hideout Cave. It still was an exciting game and they made it by the skin of their teeth. They at this point have two broken weapons, no spells left but cantrips and one character with one hit point. These are seasoned players … this is not their first rodeo. I asked Jim for his assestment and what he thought about running this at first level.

*“Death sentence. No chance. Lower hit point total, Lower spell total, Lower hit probability... The hit points alone meant Kevin lasted long enough to let me kill one of the wolves (and for Will to spare him) and allowed me to survive the initial wolf*attack. At first level two would have been down before the second wolf died leaving the caster, dwarf and bear (all wounded) to face two wolves, a hidden goblin archer and the bugbear - even the Ripper might have still been up so yeah – overkill. ... They would have ripped us all new ones.”

The one thing Jim did not take into consideration is a little house rule that is implemented into my campaigns. When I have them build a character, I add a heaping helping of hit points. I add an extra die.

Do you need smelling salts?

Are you appalled?

Wait a minute … let me explain my thoughts on this. When the D&D started adding backgrounds to flesh out a character, they, in essence, said that every fighter, cleric and rogue was something else before they became adventurers. Once they begin they gain hit points, all according to the class they chose. However, in the game there are NPCs all with their own hit points. Logically Player Characters would have the hp their backgrounds would offer. Their class level upon entry … even at 0 XP offers all the benefits and powers such as spell casting and such show training and learning accomplished that 1st level allows. This elevates the PC from the NPC, with the beginning of the class hit die. Thus a first level character should have the extra points.

And as I see it without this cushion this would have been a Total Party Kill.

Hmmmmmm!!! Maybe I need to think about this again.

<evil laugh>

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  1. ddavison's Avatar
    My group of players had two TPKs in that same area. For 1st level characters, this is a deadly area.

    It's been a long time since I ran it, but I think it basically went down like this:

    TPK #1:
    The Players took out the sentry goblins and went into the cave where they alerted the wolves. The wolves pulled against the chains and one eventually broke free. This alerted the goblins on the bridge who could see clearly the intruders with torches. One went off off for reinforcements while the other readied javelin throws against the intruders. Most of the party was finishing off the wolves while someone retreated into the cavern and promptly got hit with a javelin, dropping them. One hit is often enough to drop a character and two hits will for sure. As people came to help the downed party member, they also got speared with javelins. They eventually killed the wolves, but when reinforcements showed up on the bridge (only a few), they were already in bad shape. They ran forward to engage the enemies on the bridge and the goblins in the pool room released the flood, taking about a third of the party out of the cave. The rest were brought down by goblins. They woke up as prisoners of the goblins.

    TPK #2 (or nearly):
    As prisoners, they negotiated with goblins to overthrow the bugbear chief and his loyal followers. The halfling rogue attempted to sneak up to the campfire (seriously) where they all watched him walk up clearly with their darkvision. The bugbear and ripper attacked and clobbered the party. I can't actually recall if this ended in a TPK or if they barely scraped by with just 1 person left. It was ugly though.

    On the plus side, getting the extra HP from level 2 makes everyone extremely more survivable.

    There are a few other encounters in the book that can still be deadly at high levels in this adventure. I don't want to spoil it for any of your players, but you might want to query for which areas so you are prepared as a GM and can properly foreshadow them so that players are prepared.
  2. mhorgunn's Avatar
    Watching yet another stream, I found out Ripper, Klarg's wolf was originally a dire wolf with 50 hp. That would be the equal there with a full party of adventurers. I could feel their shudder when I shared this. LMoP is indeed a challenging dungeon at low level ... death is a real danger. Newcomers need to learn real fast. They almost took my tactical ploy and got enveloped in the goblin cave. There were a few more goblins and 3 more wolves. Curse the Cleric's bless spell.

    Thanks for the stories ddavison!!! I don't know but I love watching this part of the dungeon.

    Any one else got TPKs from Cragmaw Hideout?
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