From the Lost Mine of Phandelver,with a bit of extra flavor that ties into the campaign world as I build it for my players, here is the introduction of the Starter Set Module taken from page 3 (for those of you who might be following along at home). A lot of this was revealed to the players near the end of the second part of the Lost Mine of Phandelver module, so I won’t be spoiling anything for them.
More than five hundred years ago out in the Wild Frontier, clans of Stone Hill dwarves and arcane gnomes made an agreement known as the Phandelver’s Pact, by which they would share a rich mine in a wondrous cavern known as Wave Echo Cave. In addition to its mineral wealth, the mine contained great magical power. Red Mages allied themselves with the dwarves and ghomes to channel and bind that energy into a great forge, called the Forge of Spells, where magic items could be crafted. Times were good, and the nearby human town of Thundertree, as well as its sister sister Phandalin, prospered as well. But then disaster struck when a small sect of the Red Mages, now brimming with corruption, rallied together an army of goblins and orcs that swept through the western reaches of the Wild Frontier, laying waste to all in their path.
A Powerful force of orcs, reinforced by the evil sect of the Red Mages attacked Wave Echo Cave to seize its riches and to take control of the Forge of Spells. The Red Mages who still allied themselves with Phandelver Pact fought alongside the dwarves and gnomes to defend the Forge, and the ensuing battle became a dreadful war, destroying many of the budding communities on the edge of the Wild Frontier. Few survived the blood shed, and the tremors caused by the powerful clashes of mage against mage caused the caverns of the Wave Echo Cave to collapse, and the Forge of Spells was lost.
For centuries, the War of the Red Mages slowly slipped into legend and lore, but as civilization started creeping back towards the edge of the Wild Frontier, rumors of buired riches have attracted treasure hunters and opportunists to the area around Phandalin, and the ruins of its sister city, Thundertree – but no one has ever succeed in locating the lost mine. In recent years, on the wave of the rumors, Phadalin has become a rough-and-tumble frontier town, but many eyes are falling upon it. More important, the Rockseeker brothers – a trio of dwarves – have discovered the entrance to Wave Echo Cave, and they intend to reopen the mines. Unfortunately, for the Rockseekers, and the hope of the budding communities on the brink of the Wild Frontier, they are not the only ones interested in what was lost in Wave Echo Cave.
This next part is the introduction of the characters, and their hook into the campaign.
In the heart of Neverwinter, a gnome, a woodelf, and a dwarf sit at their usual table in the Sunder Speak Inn safe from the pouring rain. Dexter, the gnome Rogue counts his playing cards as he listens to the sound of Sunder Speak’s regular bard tune his lute; Varis, the woodelf monk, absently nibbles on an extremely rare hunk of meat as he carefully counts the number of magic users around him, noting the colorful bands around their fingers that restrict them gesturing spells; while Taros, the dwarven fighter, greedily gulps back another mug of watered down ale, trying not to notice, or at least comment, on its lackluster taste. The familiar odor of pipe weed and bottom barrel ale fill their nostrils as they anxiously wait for the return of their long absent patron, Gundred Rockseeker, to shamble through the door, shake off the rain, and present the party with their newest job – something, he had told them through their correspondents, that was going to make them all “filhty, stinking, bastardly rich.”
Gundred always said that, and always with a roaring laugh and with his stout dwarven hands vigorously rubbing together. When Taros came out of the hills looking for the promised wealth buried out on the edges of Wild Frontier, Gundred was the first dwarf he had seen and the first person to hire him. When Dexter crawled out of his wooded hamlet looking for work to support his family, Gundred was there to notice the gnome’s keen eye and mechanical aptitude. And when Varis left the monastery looking to experience the edges of the world and discover his place in it, there too was Gundred, clapping him on the back and grinning while gold jingled in his pockets.
“If you do this for me, boys, we’ll all be filthy, stinking, bastardly rich,” he had said to them, and he was never wrong. The old dwarf had a nose for opportunity and an attitude that made even the gleaming banners of any guild pale in comparison. “Well all be filthy, stinking, bastardly rich, ha ha!”
But times had changed. For a little over a year, Gundred had become a shadow, fading away from the familiar smells and crowded sounds of the Sunder Speak Inn as he began taking trips out east, exploring the budding communities on the edges of the Wild Frontier, all the while the trio had to seek out their opportunities fortunes elsewhere. When they did see him, he was always in a hurry. His usually care free-smile lined dwarven face was burdened in deep thought as his mind and words seemed aloof and dismissive.
“I’ll fill you in when I can, sonny,” was all they could get out of old Gundred, “but for now I’m playing this one close to the chest.”
And soon, like all people who leave to explore the wilds of the east, Gundren stopped returning to Neverwinter all together.
“He probably just stumbled upon an ancient dwarven ruin,” Taros had said, “He’ll be back when he’s finished counting every last copper piece in every nook and cranny.”
“He’s probably latched up with a new team,” Dexter said. “People on the Frontier probably work for a cheaper rate out there, can’t blame him.”
“He’s probably dead,” Varis had said, and while the others were more than ready to disagree, with fists and blades if they had to, they all knew that it was very probable, and, regrettably, more than likely.
It was known that with the fortunes to be found in the wilds, there also came the dangers. But now Gundred Rockseeker was back, pockets jingling with new treasures and an even brighter smile shining through his graying dwarven beard. It was all so odd to them. They had accounted him among the missing until a week ago when the dwarf just appeared almost out of thin air, and bringing with him a new job, one that would lead the trio beyond the brinks of discovered country and out into the mysterious lands of the Wild Frontier.
“Meet me at our usual table,” Gundred said. “I understand if you’re sore with me, I’m a bit sore with myself, but it will all be explained in due time, and even better, it’ll all make us filthy, stinking, bastardly rich!”
As the Sunder Speak Inn’s Bard began to sing the praises of Forgotten Realms heroes of old, Varis, Dexter, and Taros sat there, nursing their drinks and picking aimlessly at there food. The door was thrown open, washing over the music with the sound of torrential rain. The old dwarf walked in, shook off himself like a soaked dog, and smiled at the trio. The group of adventures could already see the glint of gold in his bright stone set eyes.
Check back next time we’re I talk about introductions and the mind killer of starting a campaign.