To Don, or to Doff, That is the Question—
Party: Adrik, Cade, Crumm, Morgran, & Welby
Players (respectively): Patrick, Ernie, Brian, Robin, & Joe
After the dragon’s quick, crushing, and absolute defeat, Adrik uses his skill in medicines to perform minor healing on Cade. The halfling warlock suffered vicious bite and claw attacks from the dragon and had to call upon other-worldly means to keep himself from death’s door. He is now paying the consequences as he is badly hurt and needs extra recuperation and care.
As Adrik tends to Cade, the others in the party search the dragon’s lair for valuables and fortify a position in which to rest. When satisfied their location is defensible, Welby sets about to the grisly work of procuring teeth, claws, scales, bone, and pints of blood from the dead body of the conquered young adult green dragon, remembering his arrow striking true for the final death blow. Being a fence in Phandalin, he knows the value of these items and uses his knowledge gained from field dressing hunted animals to complete the task. Also, during this time, Crumm takes a liking towards, and lays claim to, the magical rusty battle axe Hew. He hands ownership of the shortsword Talon over to a thankful Welby.
The adventurers finish their uneventful long rest and begin to make their way back to the druid Reidoth’s home. They stop along the way to check out a building, unique because its structure is still mostly intact. Welby silently approaches and listens at the door, hearing a shuffling movement from the rooms beyond. Not wishing a confrontation at this time, the comrades decide to bypass this house without further investigation.
Continuing down the path, the party is ambushed by the same type of plant creatures they had encountered earlier. Everyone is surprised except for Welby. The masterful diminutive swordsman springs into action and quickly takes out two of the twig monstrosities before anyone else can blink an eye. Mayhem ensues. The battle axe Hew hums gleefully doing destructive damage as Crumm wields it with precision. Morgran scores a critical blow of his own to one of the creatures, laying it to waste. After the dust settles from the fight, eight foes have been struck down.
During the course of the battle, the group ends up back at the building they had previously avoided. Seeing this as a sign, they decide this time to see what is inside. The band rushes through the door and encounters four ash zombies. They defeat the walkers handily, with Welby delivering another critical strike from his shortsword Talon.
The gang finally returns to the nature keeper’s humble abode and informs him of their triumphant campaign, ridding Thundertree of all evil, corruption, and despair. They report victories over the great green dragon, which Reidoth calls Venomfang, foul plant creatures, terrifying ash zombies, and the formidable cultists that were giving the druid such trouble. Reidoth seems overjoyed the party purged the deserted town of such filth. He mentions that with the dragon and the other nefarious inhabitants removed, Thundertree now has a legitimate chance to rebuild and possibly flourish. Morgran perks up at this sentiment as this is his hometown and he would like nothing more than its re-emergence as a bustling thriving settlement. Being a man of his word, the tree-hugger supplies the team with a map detailing Cragmaw Castle’s location in the southern region of Neverwinter Wood. Cragmaw Castle has been claimed by, and is the alleged headquarters of, the Cragmaw goblin tribe, ruled by King Grol. This is the place Gundren Rockseeker, Mogran’s cousin, was supposedly taken. Upon departure, Reidoth promises to spread the word of the adventurers’ fantastic deeds and dominance over evil to the world.
The party takes leave of Thundertree and makes their way to Cragmaw Castle, skirting Neverwinter Wood a bit before entering into the forest. They estimate the trip will take three days, traveling approximately eighteen miles a day at a slow pace.
At dusk of the first day, the group breaks for camp with Welby taking the initial watch. No sooner does everyone else fall asleep when the rascally rogue hears various twigs snapping and notices shadows moving among the trees. Welby begins waking up his comrades as six orcs converge and attack. Crumm rises from his slumber, and as he shakes away the cobwebs, he takes notice these orcs are from the tribe he has been hunting for vengeance. The dwarf paladin becomes enraged. He grabs his now trusty battleaxe Hew, forgoes any armor or shielding, and quickly goes on the offensive. Welby makes his way around the small fire rousing his team members, calling out in jest, “wakey wakey, hands of snakey.” Low and behold, Cade did not heed his brother’s warning and was caught “roughing the suspect” which causes the lightfoot sage to be surprised and slow to react to the assault. All of the team, save the already armored Welby, decide to eschew their armor as it is time consuming. This decision causes the group to be more easily hit by the orcs’ crude weapons and Crumm suffers a severe blow during the confrontation as a result. Barely holding consciousness, the holy warrior “touches himself” and endues divine healing on his wounds. The tide turns when a raging, growling Mogran performs a miraculous running jump and comes down hard on an unlucky orc, cutting it in half. Still slightly embarrassed, Cade gathers himself in time to polish off the last remaining opponent with a well placed beam of crackling energy. After the battle, Adrik performs healing and first aid on Cade which ends the appreciative halfling warlock’s exhaustion and damage done to him by Venomfang. Crumm satisfyingly lops off the heads of all six orcs and mounts them on long sticks. He plants the severed heads firmly in the ground as a warning to other orcs that may be in the area.
The gang finishes their protracted rest and resumes travel at dawn. They trek throughout the day without interruption and find a suitable site to bed down for the night. Before going to sleep, there is much discussion on whether the party should doff their armor or sleep with it donned. Adrik declares he does not care about any exhaustion he may experience the next day and confidently makes his choice to keep his armor on while he sleeps. Everyone else reluctantly decides to do the same, at least for one night. The night watch goes peacefully through the rotation until Morgran’s turn. Towards the end of his shift, the dwarf savage thinks he hears voices off in the distance in an unknown language. He wakes the stealthy Welby up first to investigate, then begins to stir the others. Welby keeps to the shadows and silently makes his way towards the voices. He observes six humanoids with large noses and long teeth talking amongst themselves. Apparently he has never encountered or read about these monsters as he does not recognize their race. They seem to be scouting or on patrol as there are no signs of a campsite. Welby returns to the band with his survey of the situation and they quickly set about plans for an ambush. Welby, Cade, and Adrik hide around the perimeter of the camp as Mogran and Crumm engage in loud conversation by the small fire, waiting for the creatures to emerge. Mogran insists on speaking in the dialect of Giant even though Crumm has no idea what he is saying. The large-nosed humanoids never come. Welby goes to check on their where-a-bouts, but they are long gone when he arrives at the spot he saw them. After searching the area, he is not able to perceive any tracks of where they went. It is now daylight, however, so the companions break camp and continue on their journey.
Late afternoon on the third day, the party arrives at Cragmaw Castle, which has definitely seen grander days. They stop at the edge of the clearing and discern the ground floor is still intact, but most of the upper levels have long since collapsed. After a short discussion, Welby quaffs a potion of invisibility and begins a reconnaissance mission of the castle while the rest of the team hangs back in wait at the tree line. The halfling rogue creeps up to the structure and silently begins his exploration. Just inside the entrance, Welby causes a cave-in, but the thief’s cat-like reflexes allow him to escape any serious damage. Welby hides expecting the residents to come and investigate, but they do not. The group hears the ruckus and Mogran becomes concerned his little buddy may be in trouble. He starts to rush towards the fortress, but Crumm stops the dwarf barbarian with a firm hand on his shoulder. Crumm tells Mogran that Welby can handle himself and suggests they hold for a while longer or they will no longer enjoy the element of surprise. Mogran hesitantly agrees. Welby finishes the search of the castle foyer and the hallways within and then proceeds searching around the perimeter of the keep while still under the advantage of invisibility. The small scoundrel makes his way back to the party just as the effects of his magical potion begin to wear off. He informs the companions on what he was able to reconnoiter. He saw no signs of Gundren Rockseeker.
Welby’s reconnaissance of Cragmaw Castle:
- The foyer has two guard rooms with arrow slits pointed towards the front entrance. Welby peeked in the arrow slits of both rooms and came face to face with goblin guards each time. He went undetected though due to his invisibility.
- Welby was not able to hear any sounds from the four interior doors he listened to except for one room containing multiple voices and the clanging of cups and plates. He assumes this is a dining hall.
- Welby then makes his way outside and proceeds to explore clockwise around the perimeter of the castle. He notices arrow slits all around the complex at regular intervals but none are in use by the guards.
- An empty storage room
- An empty shrine
- A room with a bugbear
- A room with more of the unknown humanoids the party encountered in the forest
- A room containing a very large beast with owl-like features
- A dining room with a really fat goblin bossing around other goblins
- A path at the north section of the fortress leading to a camouflaged hide covered entrance
- A path at the south section of the fortress leading up a small set of stairs into the dining room