Play Report: Lost Mines of Phandelver: Midsummer/Tournament of Champions

It’s been awhile since I’ve written up a play report. I had a lull in playing for awhile, and my play reports had some of my lowest stats on the site, so I got away from writing them. I was working on consolidating all of my Eska pages, and got to reading my old play reports, and they brought back good memories of those games. So I want to write play reports again. These are not so much for you, dear readers, but for me.

At the start of the pandemic, I started playing online with some friends. First sessions I’ve played, not DMed, in years… We played in a heavily modified version of Lost Mines of Phandelver. Good that it is modified, since two of us players have actually ran LMoP.

We started at 1st level, and have lost a player since the start. So far we’ve cleared Cragmaw Hideout, made friends (and enemies) in Phandallin, and have ventured out to Wyvern Tor, Old Owl Well, and Agatha’s Lair. Another friend (and new player!) has joined us for one session, and hopes to make it for more in the future.

Still, in these “unprecedented times” our sessions have been hit and miss. We don’t play as often as we’d like, but we get in while we can. Our sessions run over Roll20, and we use Discord for voice chat, though we’ve had sessions without Roll20, and even some small roleplay sessions in our group’s Discord server, either in one of the channels, or in private messages. I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised at how well and how smoothly these sessions run.

One of the things that we’ve been looking forward to since the beginning is the Midsummer Festival, and the Tournament of Champions. Midsummer was looming, less than a week away, and we were a little short on the entry fee for the tournament, 500 gp for the group. Since we have had run ins with the Redbrands in town, and they were generally disliked by the townsfolk, we decided upon a night raid into the Redbrand Hideout. Overall this was successful for us, gaining us the gold required for entry. We also freed the children that were taken prisoner. Unfortunately, their mother was killed by the Redbrands in a hostage standoff during the rescue.

The richest treasure in the hideout was the most unexpected. After defeating the bugbears, we told Droop the goblin “you work for us now”. He has now joined us as a sidekick (using the rules from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything).

Our party is currently level 3 and consists of:

Aratesh – half goliath champion fighter

Baradan – eladrin psi knight fighter (the UA version, not the Tasha’s)

Daesys – half elf swashbuckler rogue

Droop – goblin sidekick spellcaster healer

We were lucky to have been in Phandallin before Midsummer. We had paid for rooms at the Stonehill in advance, Now, the town was packed, with a tent city springing up around Phandallin and others forced to sleep in barns. The sleepy little town has turned into something completely different, like a scene out of Burning Man. Travelers from all over the Sword Coast have descended upon the town, as well as representatives from all the key mercenary companies in the region. These mercenaries were here for one main thing: The Tournament of Champions.

The tournament is divided into two parts, the morning is the Recruit Tournament. Four man teams of the mercenary company’s recruits, facing a three part gauntlet of challenges.

But I get ahead of myself, we get the day before the tournament to explore the festival, and take part in some games of chance and skill, with the opportunity to win cash and fabulous prizes.

First we checked out some of the vendors. Even though the entry fee to the tournament gave each participant 2 healing potions, we each got a greater healing potion, too. Baradan was the only one to get something from an eladrin’s magical food stall. Rolling on a random table, he got a peppermint brownie that will let him cast Snilloc’s Snowball Swarm once within the next 24 hours. Hopefully that will come in handy during the tournament.

I’ve never used a festival in any of my games, and I’m kicking myself for that. We had a great time,. Even with his crappy goblin stat line, Droop kicked some ass at the festival games, and became a crowd favorite. Droop was a great sport. He tried his hand at every game, even though the rest of the group only played to their strengths.

Daesys and Droop stepped up for the archery challenge. Targets at 30, 60, and 100 feet, with increasing prizes for either hitting the bullseye on the target, or hitting a target with all three shots given. Droop surprised all with hitting the 100 foot target, but missed all further shots. Daesys missed his first shot, which Droop gave him grief for, but he made use of the new rogue ability from Tasha’s, Steady Aim, to great affect, hitting the bullseye on the 100 and 60 foot targets!

Next up were a couple of strength based challenges, which Aratesh excelled at. At the arm wrestling stand, you had to beat the current champion three times, which he did twice. Third time, the champion rolled a natural 20 on the opposed Strength check! Aratesh wanted to go again, but the champion needed a break, and we didn’t get back to round 2.

At the hammer throw, Droop nearly dropped the hammer on his foot! Aratesh did not roll well on his first couple tries, but dug deep and on his final toss, the hammer sailed! He won a set of fine traveling clothes, clothes of mending, that would never tear or show any wear.

Dizzy rope was up next. A 100 foot tightrope, that you had to walk wearing a headband of disorientation, which gave disadvantage on the acrobatics check to cross the rope. Aratesh and Droop took an obligatory try, but Baradan and Daesys were a bit more persistant, giving it 4-5 tries apiece, before Baradan finally got some good rolls, winning a pair of boots of striding and springing.

As a grand finale, we had the pie eating contest. Aratesh started out with an exploding pie, and didn’t last long. Daesys got a planar pie, and with the amount of alcohol he had already consumed, was the next out from the group. Baradan got back to back doubling pies, and was the next out. Droop was the last of our group, holding out hope against three other competitors! To everyone’s great surprise, Droop has impeccable table manners, pulling out nice silverware and a folded napkin to place across his lap. He hung in for round after round, eventually coming in second place!

Later that evening, was the dinner for all the tournament participants. Huge tents, that were even larger in the inside than out, played host to an elaborate party. Nobles from Waterdeep and other nearby realms were in attendance. Last year’s champion gave a speech as well.

The next morning, bleachers were set up making several small stadiums, each overlooking a scrying pool. To register for the event, our group needed a name. We had thrown around several names before, but nothing that stuck. For this, we pulled out Death Arrives Daily. Mainly because every day, one of us needs to roll death saves.

We had drawn the first go, and a wizard opened a magical gate for us to step thru, leading to a sweltering jungle. In the distance, were three genprey. Baradan rushed forward to attack, drawing twin short swords, his psychically charged attacks biting deep. Daesys and his steady aim struck true with his hand crossbow. The first was severely wounded, but the three used their pack tactics against Baradan, striking true with their paralyzing bite.

This paralyzing bite was devastating to the group. Each of us loosing 2-3 rounds at a time while trying to shake it off.

After a bit of a rally from the group, and killing one of the genprey, our foes showed they had another trick up their sleeve, and they called out, screeching. A lower, deeper screech answered from nearby, and the ground shook. A huge gendrome came stomping out of the jungle, with four more genprey scurrying about it’s feet. It lets out a mighty bellow, and charges into the fray!

Things got really dicey during this fight. Everyone spent time paralyzed, and several death saves were made. Everyone consumed potions of healing, the fighters used second wind, and Droop would run in, cast cure wounds, and then nimble escape to get out. Daesys and Droop tried to keep mobile, and using their hand crossbows when available, but were forced to draw blades when cornered. Baradan and Aratesh stood toe to toe with the only thing keeping both standing was Baradan’s psionic protective field. Aratesh landed some mighty critical blows with his greatsword, to finally win the day. It was honestly a nail biter. Going down to the final rounds with the outcome in doubt.

Battered, bllodied, and bruised, our heroes completed their first challenge, and stepped back thru the magic gate to the roar of the crows!

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