Most of what happened in this session mirrored what happened in the second session of my first group (the report of which can be found here). The little embellishments that I did on the scenario (such as making Daran Edermath a talkative fellow whose favourite subject is himself) are the same, so I will focus instead on the things that this group did differently.
[Raiding the Redbrands]As the evening falls, the group re-convenes at the Inn. Over dinner, they hear the guests mention the awful Redbrands more than once, and when the group expresses an interest in doing something about them, they got all of the rumours that the locals knew. When they heard about the poor murdered woodworker, it gave them pause -- though it was nothing new for the Halfling. When they asked how many Redbrands there were, they found out there were between 20 and 30 of them -- too many for the townfolk to take care of by themselves. Fueled by the paranoia of the Halfling, most of them took counter-measures against being murdered in their sleep: they were sure the Redbrands would be coming for them! But they didn't (the Halfling called this "a chance missed..."), so the next day they were free to explore the village some more.
Their first visit of the day was to Daran Edermath. Again they got the whole story of the golden helmet and only then got served fresh spring water and sweet apple juice. Daran asked them to look at Old Owl Well, since it's the most reliable water source for the prospectors out to the eastern hills and mountains, and he is worried. But the group was more eager to talk about the Redbrands. Daran told them they leave him alone (looking pointedly at the longsword by the door), but when it was suggested that Daran could lead the villagers in a revolt against the Redbrands, he laughed. It would be a bloodbath: the crafters, farmers and shopkeeps are no hardened fighters, and training them would take too long. But a bunch of adventurers such as themselves, battle-hardened and able to move quickly, that might make a difference...
The group asks him if he wants to join their fight, but Daran declines. If things go pear-shaped, he still has to live in the village while the group can simply move on. There's too much at stake for him, but he does offer them 50 gold if they take care of the Redbrands... (This group didn't recover the goods from the Lionshield Coster, so they didn't get the reward for that. And it seemed like they weren't really keen to tackle the Redbrands at this time, so I decided to sweeten the deal for them.)
When asked, Daran pointed towards Halia as another person the Redbrands don't mess with and gave them directions to the Miner's Exchange. (This ties in with the Halfling Rogue's background as a former Redbrand -- but he didn't tell the group that. He only had to give a few pointers and the group decided to go visit Halia as the most logical next step -- playing nicely along with the Rogue's agenda!)
Arriving at the Miner's Exchange, they ask for a meeting with Halia and get shown into her office. Again, I put three chairs in front of Halia's desk, to see how the group would react. Promptly, the Rogue and the Wizard plunked down -- the rest kept standing. Halia explained a bit that the Redbrands were bad for business (though not necessarily hers), and offered 100 gold for the disposal of Glasstaff and posession of any correspondence of his. Most of the group picked up that this was a bit weird (why only the head of the gang, and not all of the gang? what is so special about the correspondence?), and discussed this amongst themselves after they left.
On their way back to the inn, they were accosted by a band of four Redbrands. Again, it did not take much for the group to go into full combat mode after only a slight provocation. And again, the group was unpleasantly surprised by the effectiveness of the second attack these guys could do! (I only now realise that I subconsciously played every Redbrand as male, but why would there not be some female ruffians? The male-ness is heavily implied by the fact that the Redbrands were making eyes at the woodworkers wife, but why not have one or two women amongst them? I will try to remember this for the next sessions, because in my fantasy worlds, women are as capable of evil as men.)
During the fight, the Wizard made good use of his Ray of Frost and Shocking Grasp. And when the Redbrands had lined up just right, he set off a Burning Hands which did quite a bit of damage. However, his position in the second rank makes him vulnerable: the first Redbrands engage the front rank and the rest walk past to engage the second rank. And if the Wizard is doing most of the damage, they are going to attack him -- and with their two attacks, they do pack enough punch to make things quite difficult for the poor Wizard...
It took a few heals from the Cleric and Second Winds from the Fighters to get through this fight. The last dying Redbrand gets asked how many of them there are -- he mumbles '24' and then dies. (I didn't count, but it's a nice number between 20 and 30. If things don't add up, I can always throw another band of ruffians at the group on short notice to pad the numbers.)
Since they're practically standing on the front porch of the Townmaster's Hall, they pile the bodies next to the door for someone else to dispose of. Through the empty streets, they walk to the inn, and the door is only opened after insistent knocking. When Toblen sees it's the group, he is relieved and urges them to be careful. They rest up at the inn for a Short Rest, resetting a few abilities they might need later.
Then they decide to take the fight to the Redbrands and to pay the Sleeping Giant Taphouse a little visit. The street running from the inn to the taphouse is deserted, and they can see figures at the top floors of the houses quickly drawing the curtains when they spot the group. When asked about their marching order, the answer is: "Swagger is the word!" -- they picked up on the Wild West theme! When they came by the taphouse, they didn't waste too much time with posing: just after the Redbrands finished their little mocking speech, arrows started to fly.
(I decided to make these Redbrands a little tougher, and gave them 20 HPs: the group sent to provoke were just starting out, but these are the intermediate guys. I also put four of them on the porch, and two inside: those came out in a few rounds' time, adding to the fight. This made the fight a lot more difficult for the group, also because they didn't roll that well.) Again, the Wizard was in the second rank of the marching order and got hit a few times, needing some Heals from the Cleric. In the end, the Wizard cast Sleep and managed to put one of the Redbrands to sleep, which left two Redbrands standing who were already down on their health and thus speedily dispatched.
Inside the taphouse, they found the poor bartender hiding behind the counter. He only came out of hiding when the Rogue and the Wizard were discussing the merits of torching the place! He's just an innocent, caught up in things when the Redbrands chased all his other customers away, but it took some time for the group to trust him. They bound the sleeping Redbrand and interrogated him, and piled the dead bodies inside the taphouse. They advised the bartender to seek refuge in Daran's orchard, and marched the captured Redbrand to the Townmaster's Hall. They gave their captive to Sildar for locking up, and advised him to dispose of the bodies in the taphouse. Sildar was both pleased and surprised, but they didn't really wait for his reaction and returned to the inn.
There, they settled in for the night, after deciding to get going really early the next morning, and enter the secret entrance Carp had told the Rogue about. Again, there were no attempts on their lives. Again, the Rogue thought this was a chance missed!
After a very early breakfast, they set out towards the Sleeping Giant Taphouse to see if the carnage of the previous afternoon had been discovered by the remaining Redbrands. They found the taphouse completely empty. (I had ruled that Sildar bullied some villagers in helping him remove the bodies -- no civilised village should allow piles of dead bodies within the village itself, even if they are the bodies of ruffians who terrorised the villagers! Also, the owner of the taphouse had packed his stuff and went to Neverwinter -- he is not going to stick around to find out how the other villagers will treat him when the Redbrands have been defeated. I ruled that the Redbrands must have noticed a good of their number did not return to the hideout, so they did not send anyone out to check -- something must be up. However, they do feel quite secure in their hideout, and so there was no added security.)
After confirming that all was quiet at the taphouse, they went to the secret entrance tunnel. After deliberating some time on which object to cast Light, they went in and were a bit dissapointed that the tunnel was so short! Again, I let the Nothic contact the Rogue telepathically (chosen at random), and he threw a piece of dried meat to it when it asked for meat. Of course, that's not what the Nothic wanted, and when it asked for fresh human meat, arrows started to fly again! The fighters closed, and soon it was a done deal.
The group took the south-west corridor (the same as the first group, which I found interesting) and after listening to both doors, decided to kick in the south door -- perhaps expecting to find the woodworker's wife and daughter there. Of course, a fight ensued. The Wizard got into position and covered the whole room with his Burning Hands -- also killing the poor fainted Goblin. (Exactly the same as in the first group!) They looted the bodies and went back out into the corridor again.
The Folk Hero listened at the door and heard the sounds of gambling: the Redbrands behind this door were distracted, perfect for a Surprise! In true murder-hobo style (though the group argued that letting the sleeping Redbrand live was somehow 'proof' they were not behaving like murder-hobos) they positioned themselves in front of the north door and kicked it in. A tough fight broke out (I buffed the Redbrands a bit), especially because the Noble kept rolling quite low and missing... But then the last of the Redbrands went down, and they had a chance to shove aside the upturned table and gather the loot off the floor.
And that is where we ended the session!