I mentioned in an earlier post that I was going to start running The Lost Mine of Phandelver when I get moved back to my hometown and wedge myself into my brother’s weekly gaming group. This should be an interesting campaign for a couple of reasons. Mainly it should be interesting because it’s going to be the first Dungeons and Dragons game in a long time for a group of die-hard Pathfinder players. However, like Grima Wormtongue, I’ve managed to spread whispers among those around the table, and they’ve agreed to let me run a Dungeons and Dragon game for them. The other reason it should be interesting is because I have actually played more 5th edition than I have ran so far, and haven’t really done a lot of that either. I consider myself to be a decent dungeon master and normally don’t worry too much about this sort of thing, but I feel like I am really in a position where I need to go above and beyond to sell this game, since I’m running for a group of people who have spent a bunch of money on books for a rival game system. So I really want to make the best first impression possible.So to that end I felt like running the adventure from the starter box would be a good idea for a few reasons. First, I really like the adventure for the most part. Second, it’s designed for beginning game masters and players, which is nice even though everyone in the group are veteran players. And third, I’ve played through a good bit of the adventure, so having that perspective as a player and now reading things as a dungeon master gives me an excellent grasp of the material. However, I have no intention of just leaving everything in the book “as is.”
This is because I’ve also picked up a copy of Princes of the Apocalypse, and have every intention of running that adventure as well. I’ve barely scratched the surface of that book, but already I have some ideas about how to dovetail these two adventures together. The easiest thing to do is just start enlisting the enemies in The Lost Mines of Phandelver into cults of elemental evil. So that’s what I’ve done. It makes sense to have all of the Cragmaw forces aligned with the Cult of the Black Earth – and doesn’t make much sense to have them aligned with any other cult – so that’s what I’ve done. This way elemental evil shows up right away, and makes the transition from one module to another feel seamless (I hope).
The other obvious thing to do, of course, was enlist Glasstaff and the Redbrands into an elemental cult. My first impulse was to make these folks members of the fire cult – because Redbrands – but when I thought about things a little more this made less and less sense for a couple of reasons. Perhaps the biggest reason is the nature of the cults and how they would interact with the town of Phandelver. I feel like the Cult of the Eternal Flame would be much more aggressive than I want the Redbrands to be, probably setting buildings on fire and the like (I hear fire cultists are big on arson). I also want the Redbrands to have at least a halfway-decent working relationship with the forces of the Cragmaw, and the Cult of the Eternal Flame really only has synergy with the wind cult – the Cult of the Howling Hatred.
So, after thinking about things a little more, I’ve decided that I really like the idea of making the Redbrands belong to the Cult of the Crushing Wave. I feel like the philosophy of the water cult is more in line with how I want the Redbrands to be – more insidious and opportunistically aggressive and less “setting the inn on fire” aggressive. Also, it fits nicely with my idea that the water cultists would be the most interested in the Wave Echo Cave – this way Glasstaff can still be taking orders from “the spider” (although the name and identity will likely change) and I don’t have to tinker with that part of the adventure as much. I wanted the water cult to be interested in the wave echo cave anyway, and this route lets me introduce a couple of cults without trying to shoehorn them all into the adventure.
Speaking of shoehorns, I also plan to insert one of the side treks from Princes of the Apocalypse into the Lost Mine of Phandelver as a replacement for the Old Owl Well encounter. There is actually a side trek in Princes that features a necromancer, complete with a lair map and everything. As much as I like the encounter with the red wizard, I think an encounter with a necromancer driven mad by visions of the Elder Eye will serve my purposes better. Replace the dragon cultists with air cultists if the party ever goes to Thundertree and that’s that. Aside from dropping in a few other plot hooks that lead west and tweaking things in a few other places that’s pretty much my plan.
We’ll see how it goes!