The Lost Mine of Phandelver is the introductory adventure for the 5th Edition Starter Set. It is designed for PC levels 1 – 5 and has a good mix of wilderness, dungeon, and village encounters with a decent story. Your players will become heroes as the save the village of Phandalin from hordes of goblins, doppelgangers and worse, all led by a sinister and maniacal Drow mage.
Plus, with the recent publication of The Dragon of Icespire Peak from the D&D Essentials Kit, the two are perfect adventure companions. By adding the sandbox-style message board and the rampaging white dragon to the Lost Mine storyline, you can create an absolutely epic campaign that should take players up to 8th level and beyond. In the maps section, I include a merged map that depicts all the locations of both adventures.
This is a complete overview of our experience playing this adventure. There are five sections:
The Campaign Diary – The full Tale of the Saviors of Phandalin as they attempt to collect on a $50 debt.
The Charts – All of the charts and tables that I use to run the campaign. They include Monster Stat sheets, Encounter Lists, Village Rosters, Rules Synopses, Campaign Setting Overviews and more. I include the adventure-specific charts and a blank copy if you prfer to make your own. If you want a more in-depth analysis of the charts, check out my Dungeon Master Resource Page.
The Maps – All the maps that I used to run The Lost Mine of Phandelver, including some custom maps. The Player Maps have all hidden locations, traps, and secret areas removed. They are great for handing out to players (in sections) so that they can better visualize the encounter.
The Handouts – The module came with one handout to give to the players. I added 10 more. Most handouts provided further motivation for the players to want to hunt down the main villain, Nezzar, since he has no contact with the players until the last chapter. A few set up future adventure hooks. I usually print them using a variety of construction and specialty papers cut to fit my printer. The Handouts can be printed as is or used as a starting point for your own creative spin.
The Online Resources – I’ve included links to some excellent websites that can help you run your game, along with some awesome YouTube channels that will improve your skills as a DM.
If there is anything else that you think I should have here to help you run your own campaign, please leave a comment.
Session 1 – Our merry band of mercenaries manages to lose their patron in five minutes and violates the Geneva Convention in ten.
Session 2 – The Mercs with No Name sack a goblin cave, collect some second-hand furniture and find an NPC that I call Captain Exposition.
Session 3 – The Mercs invade the peaceful village of Phandalin, try to be Murder Hobos, and pick a fight with the local gang of thugs.
Session 4 – The Mercs storm the Thug Hideout, pet some monsters, obtain the world’s ugliest valet, and play a wild game of Liar’s Dice.
Session 5 – Gather round while we replay the entire Phandalin section and then go off in search of the creator of the Forgotten Realms.
Session 6 – The Mercs find the ruined town of Thundertree, the spirit of Ed Greenwood in a batty old druid, and, holy crap, a green dragon!
Session 7 – We start with a TPK, then battle a very colorful sorcerer and take on the dragon! At level 2! And they steal some dragon eggs.
Session 8 – The party arrives back in Phandalin to find that everything is not as it seems. Then they trash the only good inn in town.
Session 9 – During the Festival of Greengrass, the goblin army invades Phandalin. Our heroes risk it all to save the village they call home.
Session 10 – The newly dubbed Saviors of Phandalin search for the mysterious four-fingered man and find the bum who owes them $50.
Session 11 – The Saviors finally get to Chapter 5, only to find zero treasure, just strange chucks of humming metal. And a ton of ghouls.
Session 12 – The Saviors negotiate with Nezzar, the evil puppet master, by stabbing him with a sword. And the evil spider god, Lolth, shows up.
Session 13 – Having defeated Nezzar, The Saviors continue to search the dungeon, obsessed with finding more mysterious humming metal.
Session 14 – The thrilling conclusion. The humming metal pays off, secret villains are revealed, and there’s lots of ominous foreshadowing.
Prior to every campaign, I give my players a folder for their character. The two pockets hold their character sheets, spell cards, handouts, and other PC related items. The center binder holds four important handouts.
Rules FOUR PAGE – A brief Rules synopsis that includes info on Adventuring and Combat basics to help new players learn and veteran players remember some the of the core rules of D&D.
Critical Hit-Fumble Table – Although this is included in the Rules FOUR Page, some have asked for this expanded Critical Hit / Fumble chart spearately. My players love this chart since it allows them the chance to completely obliterate an enemy at the risk of falling flat on their face or stabbing an ally.
Equipment List & Equipment List Gear – All the basic equipment commonly available for purchase. While it can be fun to role play the shopping spree, usually it’s just easier for players to look it up and tell me what they bought. Plus, it keeps the murder-hobos from killing your shopkeeps. Obviously, prices can be adjusted, based upon the availability of the item and the quality of the shop. There are two files for the Equipment Lists.
Sword Coast Codex – The Lost Mine of Phandelver (as well as most of the published adventures) takes place in the official D&D setting, The Forgotten Realms. This two-page Overview gives your players the common knowledge that a person living in the Realms would know. Basic Geography, Known Factions, Currency, Major Gods, the Standard Calendar, and a Brief History of the World are included. I’ve removed any reference to a specific date, so that you can set the start of your campaign whenever you want.
Up next are all the charts and tables for the DM eyes only. No peeking, you conniving, cheating, double-crossing, lily-livered, dice-fudging, min-maxed, hobo-murdering, meta-gaming PCs! For further explanation of any of these tables, go to my Dungeon Master Resource Page.
Party Character Stats – I keep all the important character stats on this Cheat Sheet. You can see it attached to my DM screen below. It helps me plan encounters and keep things balanced, especially when running things on the fly.
Monster Stats Phandelver – The thing I miss most about OSR modules is that Monster Stat sheet included in the back. This puts all of the relevant combat data for every creature in the adventure all in one place. No more forgetting a special ability, or hunting through the book for a single stat, or flipping back and forth when running combat with two or more monsters. This single page will make running the adventure ten times easier.
Encounter List Phandelver – This Master List has all the keyed encounter areas of the adventure. This helps me keep track of every room at a glance; including Monsters, Traps, Treasure and Experience Points that can be found or earned in each room. No more forgetting a cool trap or missing a key plot point because it was buried in the text.
Phandalin Village Roster – The adventure lists about a dozen NPCs in the village of Phandalin. I expanded the local map and included a roster of every resident of the town’s 40+ builings. The new roster lists a several more shops, class and level listings of the important NPCs, a few gossipy details, and a rundown of every combat-capable citizen that will come to bear during my campaign’s goblin invasion.
Phandalin Battle Chart – Many people asked how I ran my Siege of Phandalin that occurs in Session 9. I wanted a simple, basic rule set that evoked the chaos of war without all the added math. Refer to my How To Run a Fantasy Siege in D&D post for more info. Here is the chart that I used to track all the combatant of that glorious battle. Basically, it is a modified version of 4th edition Minion rules where each combatant requires “x” number of hits to kill (goblins take 1 hit, hobgoblins take 2, etc). This method only requires the use of the D20 die and this chart (and about 50 optional minis).
For those of you who prefer to make their own lists, here are links to clean, blank versions of all these charts. If you prefer to type your own, you can recreate them using Microsoft Excel.
Calendar Forgotten Realms – Bonus! This is a blank calendar for use in the Forgotten Realms setting. Use it to plan out the timeline of your campaign; never miss a festival, celebrate every holiday, and maybe create a few of your own.
There are a number of excellent additional resources available online to help you be a better DM. Here are a few that I use all the time. I often keep the website tabs open on my phone or tablet to refer to them as needed during a game.
Roll 20 D&D 5th Edition Compendeum – Roll 20 is one of the best virtual tabletop systems and they have compiled a complete listing of every rule, monster, spell, and more that is D&D. The link does offer virtual books for sale, but the entire database is fully searchable and completely free. Just use the Search Bar to type in whatever you need to find and get the full description and statistics of that item. This resource is invaluable.
Forgotten Realms Wiki – Every article of fact, trivia, and lore relating to the Forgotten Realms (where the 5th edition adventures are set) can be found here. This is a tremendous source for inspiration to add favor and spice up your campaign. Perfect for researching the people, places, and events of the world’s greatest fantasy setting. I use this all the time.
Kobold Fight Club – Wandering Monsters are a staple of D&D. Nothing keeps players on their toes better than some random thing jumping out from the shadows. But the tables provided in most modules are pretty boring. Kobold Fight Club uses math, algorithms, and magic(?) to create memorable and unique random encounters for any level. Yip, yip, yip!
Drivethru RPG – This is an excellent source for finding all the OSR D&D adventures and modules from every edition, but especially 1st and 2nd edition. They mostly come in PDF format but some have a print on demand option. I have been replacing all of my original and lost D&D materials using this website. In the rare event that I can’t find what I need, I will use the Dungeon Masters Guild which is their sister site.
There are a number of excellent YouTubers who produce good, useful content related to roleplaying games and D&D specifically. Here are a few of my favorites.
Matthew Colville – This is by far and away, the best channel for getting advice about being a dungeon master. His series on Running the Game is phenomenal, and covers every topics from running a simple hack-and-slash dungeon to an open sandbox adventure and even a deep, sophisticated politcally-motivated Game of Thrones style campaign. His love of RPGs is evident in every syllable of every word. And the streaming of his actual gameplay sessions is the only one I can watch, even over Critical Roll! I would kill to play in his campaign.
Seth Skorkowsky – This is a kick-ass site that dives into a ton of great stuff such as DM tips, player advice, RPG Philosophy, adventure reviews and overviews. He also discusses several other RPG systems, including Call of Cthulhu, Cyberpunk, and Star Traveller. His videos are always fun to watch and his interlaced skits are the only ones that are actually funny. Plus, I met him once and he is a truly great guy, so I’ll try to help him out. Not that he needs it. His channel just won an ENnie award for best online content!
Jorphdan – Jordan the ph is silent has one of the best channels that delves into the lore of the Forgotten Realms. He has plenty of other things on his channel, such as reviews and advice about the 5th edition D&D adventures, a series on creating your own world, and collaborations with other YouTubers. But it is his encyclopedic knowledge of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting is without equal. From the gods, factions, races, nations, geography, and history of the fabled land of Faerun, Jorphdan is the omnipotent god of trivia.
Capt Corajus -Pronounced Captain Courageous, this channel is an excellent place to learn about the Old School Revival that is finding its way into more and more D&D campaigns. Here you will find out about all the original D&DC adventures as well as ways to incorporate the elements of Old School style of play into your game. This is also where I stole the Game On! tag that ends all my posts.
That’s about it. After 20 sessions that took over a year to complete, we finally concluded the epic Lost Mine of Phandelver. (We played every other week for only 2 hours per session, the limit of a kid’s D&D focus)
We hope that you have as much fun and excitement when you run this adventure. Feel free to use any, all, or none of these extras that I used to run the adventure. Hopefully, you can use them to inspire your own epic adventure.
And if you like these Resources pages, then check out the ones I’ve created for the other campaigns I’m running at the D&D Campaign Resources Page.
As always, it’s better to show than tell, and Game On!