I found it really interesting to see how different the dungeon played the second time around, as a result of character actions and dice rolls. Whereas the first group had little problem clearing the hideout, the second group experienced much more of a challenge. This might in part have been because the player for the Cleric was absent due to a short (but well-earned) vacation -- so the Cleric didn't participate in the most of the fights.
When the introductions were made, the Halfling Rogue introduced himself as 'Vinnie Four-fingers'. Almost in unison, the rest of the group asked him what happened to his fifth finger. Vinnie replied: "Nah, that's my thumb, that's not a finger!"
[Spoilers for 'The Lost Mine of Phandelin']The hook is exactly the same: transporting a cart with cargo to the booming mining town of Phandelin. Then the group spots two dead horses on the trail, which could reasonably be assumed to belong to their patron and his bodyguard -- both killed by black-feathered arrows. As the two fighters approach, goblins ambush them. Again, the goblins made good use of their bonus action to re-hide themselves in the bushes to avoid getting hit back! Our Folk Hero got a few arrows sticking in him, but he waited patiently for a goblin to appear, picking them off one by one. Meanwhile, the Rogue had sneaked into the bushes to do some recon, and he spotted one of the goblins hiding -- and summarily dispatched him. Only when the Noble Fighter and the magician started to join the fight did the tide of battle turn, and the last goblin was dispatched by readied actions from the two fighters and the magician! But the Folk Hero needed some healing from the Cleric after that...
The group found the trail to the hideout. They left the Cleric with the cart and followed it up the hill with the Noble Fighter at the front. He did see the snare, but did not notice the pit trap and failed his save, so he got hurt tumbling down the hole... Luckily the rest of the party could simply walk through the pit.
At the mouth of the cave, they approached the path into the cave carefully, and did manage to spot the goblins on the watch before being spotted. With the Noble Fighter at the front and the rest of the party providing covering fire, the fight began -- but everybody kept missing! Just when the goblins managed to score some hits and started getting confident that they could win this fight, a series of hits by the party quickly put an end to the battle.
Then they went into the cave, with the Folk Hero at the front, carrying a torch. They spotted the wolves in the cave to the right, and the Folk Hero, the Rogue and the Wizard used their ranged attack capabilities to dispatch the wolves -- which they succeeded at before the wolves could yank their chains loose. They briefly explored this room, but decided to press on by following the stream further north.
Because the Folk Hero, who again took the front, was carrying a torch, the goblin on the bridge above the stream could spot them easily. He called for the goblins further upstream to release the flood -- which the Wizard could translate, so he could warn everyone. Quickly, the group retreated to the cave where the wolves formerly to let the flood pass by. Both of the Fighters were convinced the goblins could perform this trick only once, but the Wizard and the Rogue mused that, if they were in charge, they would make sure they could do this a second time...
The group re-formed and advanced once more -- but this time the Folk Hero took a careful shot at the goblin on the bridge, killing it in one shot. The goblin was sent tumbling into the stream, shrieking as it died -- which was enough for the other goblins to trigger another floodwave. This time, the Wizard quickly crossed the stream towards the steep passage to the west as the rest of the party retreated again towards the wolf-cave.
After the flood passed, two goblins carefully advanced from the waterfall towards the mouth of the cave. (I ruled that they must have been spooked by their comrade being killed so suddenly, so they wanted to make sure the threat was gone.) The one in the front wielded his scimitar, the one at the back had his bow. The Wizard wanted to let them get closer so he could cast Burning Hands on them, but the goblin at the back spotted him lurking and hit him with an arrow -- and dropped the Wizard! The rest of the party was on their way by then, and made short work of the goblins, while the Wizard was stabilised...
At this time, the party retreated towards the lookout at the mouth of the cave to rest up and treat their wounds. The Rogue went back to the cart to fetch the Cleric who cast his healing magic on the Wizard. (I ruled that the goblins would have assumed that the attacks had been driven off, but would remain at high alert. They decided against going outside, to minimise the chance of an ambush in broad daylight: they have the advantage in the dark of the cave!)
The party entering the cave once again. Every party member had their own color, goblins were orange. I used these markers on the map to give us a general ideal of position, not to do combat on a grid!
Again, the party entered the dungeon and decided to explore the wolves' cave some more. After finding refuse at the bottom of the slope, the group decided to see what they could find at the top. However, the Folk Hero rolled pretty badly and ended up at the bottom of the slope again after falling halfway. The Noble then tied a rope around him and climbed up without too many problems. Nobody made an effort to be quiet, so when the Noble arrived at the top, he alerted Klarg the Bugbear of his presence. Luckily, the rest of the group quickly followed, using the rope to climb up without too many problems.
A pitched battle ensued. Klarg attacked the Noble, fumbling and smashing a stalagmite into two. The Noble hit him, and then the Rogue did his sneak attack -- doing maximum damage, bringing Klarg down to 1 hit point! Before the Wizard could finish off Klarg, he managed to drop the Noble...
Meanwhile, the Folk Hero had been fighting Klarg's pet wolf, but missing most of the time while the wolf was damaging him rather badly. Then the wolf actually dropped the Folk Hero, so that both Fighters were out of the fight... It was the Rogue who finished the wolf with an arrow, and the first goblin was dispatched quickly as well.
The Wizard then moved towards the opening to the north, but was intercepted by a fleeing goblin who made the most of his bonus Disengage action for a 'run-by' attack. (I ruled that the one remaining goblin would flee to their den and report to Yeemik who would mount a defense.)
The fight over, the Fighters were stabilised and the place looted. Klarg's treasure chest was found and opened carefully with the Wizard's Mage Hand (in case the lid was trapped). Both Fighters were given a Potion of Healing, and recovered somewhat. The Rogue, meanwhile, was filling his pockets with the coins from the chest, and the Wizard grabbed the statuette of the frog and slipped it in his pouch.
Now the party deliberated what to do. It was suggested that the party press on to pursue the fleeing goblin before he could get reinforcements. It was suggested that the party retreat for now and come back after a Long Rest (that is: putting up camp for the night). In the end, it was decided that they'd take a Short Rest (which is an hour). The Fighters would recover (and finishing the Short Rest would allow them to use their Second Wind ability to recover some of their Hit Points) while the rest of the party would stand watch.
I ruled that Yeemik would organise a defense, but when the attackers would not appear, he'd re-think his position. He'd love to strike out on his own, become the leader of his own tribe -- but he'd need supplies in order to set up a base before he could go raiding. And the supplies that had been looted were in Klarg's cave -- where the attackers were! But according to the reports, they were not in any shape to take on seven goblins, and Sildar could be his bargaining chip... So he knocked out Sildar, the bodyguard of the party's patron, and let two of his underlings carry Sildar towards Klarg's cave. He would follow with his scimitar, so that he could threaten to kill Sildar if the party tried any funny tricks. Of course, the quartet was spotted as they approached, and Yeemik offered Sildar's life for the supplies in the cave.
With a bit of to-and-fro, the party agreed to Yeemik's proposal. The goblins would leave the unconscious Sildar near the waterfall and retreat, giving the party room to retrieve Sildar and evacuate. Things got a bit tense when the party had to walk under the bridge, where two goblin archers and one goblin wielding a scimitar eyed them suspisciously -- but neither side wanted to risk a fight. The party managed to leave the cave unmolested, and walked back to the cart where they made camp. Sildar regained consciousness and told the party of his ordeal and Gundren's uncertain fate.
The night passed uneventful: the goblins were too busy with taking the supplies out of the cave and moving away to find another place to set up their base! The party split their money (at the insistence of the Folk Hero), rested and recovered.
At the end of the next day, the party reached Phandelin. They delivered their cargo to Barthen and collected their reward. Then they joined Sildar at the inn, and were rather insistent that they'd be paid after he finished his drink... So he took them to the Townmaster's office, where the party took note of the reward for routing the orcs at Wyvern Tor. Sildar pressed the townmaster into his service and paid every character the agreed-upon 10 gold pieces.
Then the party split up! The Noble staid to explain his family tree to a confused Sildar -- but Sildar might make use of that information to pressure the Noble in helping him to find Iarno, his contact in Phandelin who dissapeared. Meanwhile, the Wizard and the Folk Hero visited the Lion's Coster to check out the armour (Barthen had pointed it out to them), but the Folk Hero's purse was too light to allow him to upgrade his armour. They then visited the Shrine of Luck, and the Wizard was very interested in the quest given by the cleric tending the shrine, to present a silver comb to a Banshee and ask her about a spellbook.
The Rogue went to visit his aunt at her farm. He met his nephew and while his aunt was preparing him something to eat, he told about his recent adventures. He gave some of the money to his aunt, along with some of his 'ill-gotten gains'... He was also interested about his nephew's tale of the secret passage at the ruined manor at the east of town...
I had a lot of fun with this. I'm looking forward to the second sessions! Now that they're in town, there's more freedom to choose their own path, and I'm almost sure that the two groups will diverge even further. And that makes it interesting: as GM, I'm not simply doing the same thing twice. Instead, I'm reacting to what the party does and advancing the plot according to that.
For instance: the first group eradicated all the goblins in the hideout. But the second group did not, and even gave Yeemik the opportunity to establish his own (small) tribe. So in a few weeks time, perhaps there will be a raid on a trader's wagon along the Triboar trail by this new tribe -- but such a thing won't happen in the version of the campaign that the first group is getting.