The DM’s Guide to Lost Mines of Phandelver is a series of articles exploring the various encounters in the Lost Mines module. Some suggestions are provided for deepening the backstories of certain NPCs and connecting them to the existing lore of the Forgotten Realms. The articles are organized in the same fashion as the module, so if an NPC has been introduced in Part 2 of the module, you’ll see the article about the NPC in Part 2. This is still a work in progress, as I plan to update it regularly.
Part 1: Goblin Arrows
Your First Phandelver Session, Part 1: Before the Goblin Ambush What can you do as a DM to set up the story for you players before they encounter the Goblins on the Triboar Trail? Some suggestions about providing players background on the Forgotten Realms and generating bonds between players are included here.
Your First Phandelver Session, Part 2: Running the Goblin Ambush As a newbie DM, running your first combat encounter can be overwhelming. This article covers concepts such as perception vs. passive perception, stealth, cover and difficult terrain as it pertains to the goblin ambush. Also, some tips are provided for adjusting combat difficulty, as well as running the combat successfully either in theater of the mind or using a battlemap.
Part 2: Phandalin
Old Owl Well/Agatha Story Hook: Sister Garaele is Missing! The story hooks that the original module gives us for visiting Agatha the Banshee and Old Owl Well are a bit lackluster. In this alternate story hook, which can tie into both the Agatha and Old Owl Well quests, Sister Garaele has been kidnapped by Hamun Kost when she went to investigate Kost’s activities near old Owl Well on behalf of the Harpers.
Part 3: The Spider’s Web
Agatha the Banshee: Some thoughts about building a better backstory for Agatha (Auglatha). Cragmaw Castle was once owned by Agatha’s family and had been called “Melarue Keep”. She had been killed by her lover and had been betrayed by him. This article provides background for an optional side quest: “The Redemption of Auglatha Melarue”.
The Redemption of Auglatha Melarue: The Redemption of Auglatha (Agatha) Melarue is a homebrew supplementary quest to Lost Mines of Phandelver which players can discover when visiting Cragmaw Castle. A secret passage below the Altar room reveals the Melarue family’s secret sanctum. Here they find clues about Agatha the Banshee’s true identity, and may even find a way to release her from her torment.
Hamun Kost and Old Owl Well: Who is Hamun Kost? What is he doing at Old Owl Well? Some suggestions provided to help a DM answer these questions as well as a lore dump on Old Owl Well and the ancient Netherese who helped build it.
The Orcs of Wyvern Tor: Brughor Axe-Biter is an Orc who is very far from his home, the Kingdom of Many Arrows. Why is he hiding about in Wyvern Tor? Could he be the one behind all the mysterious dismemberments along the Triboar Trail? If so, why is he cutting off the hands of random travelers?
Venomfang: Why is Venomfang in Thundertree? What does he want? Since green dragons love to use deception to get the good hearted to do their will, how can I convincingly lie to characters so that they will do what Venomfang wants? If it comes down to a fight, will it be a TPK?
Avoiding a TPK with Venomfang (Or Not): Confronting a Green Dragon could very well lead to the death of a party member, or even a TPK. As DMs how can we prepare for this possibility so that all the players have fun?
Vyerith and Vhalak, The Doppelgangers: The Doppelgangers in Lost Mines seem to be shoehorned in without much thought. How can we develop the backstories for these characters so that their presence in this adventure seem more compelling and organic?
Part 4: Wave Echo Cave
Wave Echo Cave: Considering how massive the map of this dungeon is, how can we run Wave Echo Cave effectively? Should there be any encounters before the party arrives there? What can I add to each room to evoke details of the place Wave Echo Cave used to be?
Nezznar the Black Spider: As a villain, Nezznar the Black spider leaves much to be desired. How can we develop Nezznar’s backstory so that he seem less one dimensional? Also, is there a way we can have him appear earlier in the campaign so he doesn’t just appear at the very end? Finally, what tweaks can we make to the combat mechanics of the final encounter to make it the epic boss battle it deserves to be?
The Forge of Spells: How can we make the Forge of Spells more interesting, powerful, and consequential? Some ideas are explored about the origin of the forge of spells as well as potential properties the forge may have.