Play It Solo: Lost Mine of Phandelver – Ruins of Thundertree
This is part 6 of Play It Solo for the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set 5th Edition adventure, Lost Mine of Phandelver.
This chapter will focus on the exploration of the Thundertree Ruins, an abandoned village on the outskirts of the Neverwinter Wood.
It will be assumed that you have already played the first chapter of this adventure and progressed to part 2 before coming here. If you have not, click here for Part 1.
If you’re not familiar with how Play It Solo works or if you want to refresh your memory, click here.
It takes roughly two days to reach the castle from Phandalin and vice versa, therefore it is possible to have up to four random encounters per journey (See page 27).
Chapter 3: The Spider’s Web
Ruins of Thundertree
Open the spoiler box below and read the introduction.
Gradually, the trail becomes an old, overgrown lane winding between dilapidated buildings choked in vines and brush. Ahead of you, in the middle of the settlement, rises a steep hill, upon which stands a stone tower with a partially collapsed roof and an adjoining cottage. A dirt road hugs the base of the hill and wends its way between old stone houses, many of which are roofless ruins with interiors open to the weather. Other buildings appear more or less intact. The whole place is eerily silent.
A wooden sign is nailed to a post nearby. It reads: “DANGER! Plant monsters AND zombies! Turn back now!”.
Turn to page 30 of the Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure booklet and read the ‘General Features’ section.
Each numbered section in this article below will have a ‘Possible Actions and Outcomes’ spoiler box, so as not to give anything away before you are ready to explore the area. Each section may also have an ‘Area Description’ spoiler box.
Once you enter an area, open the area description spoiler box (if one is included) and read the text, before deciding what you will do in response to what you see, then open the ‘Possible actions and outcomes’ spoiler box.
You may also come across square brackets like these [with hidden text]. The information in the square brackets can be revealed by highlighting the text inside the brackets by clicking and dragging from the opening bracket to the closing bracket.
The information in the brackets contain spoilers and, in many cases, should only be revealed when certain conditions are met.
Each numbered section will lead to other areas around the ruins as indicated at the bottom of each section below the spoiler boxes. To reach other areas within the ruins, simply scroll up or down to find the relevant sections.
To know where you are going, feel free to refer to the map on page 31 of the adventure booklet, but be careful not to let your eyes wander.
You may come and go from this location as you please in order to regroup, gather supplies from town and so forth. Whenever you do so, refer to the ‘Leaving The Ruins of Thundertree’ section near the bottom of this page.
Cowering in the shadow of an old tree is a crumbled stone cottage with no roof. Weeds are rampant here.
Roll 1d20 + 3. If the result is lower than your passive Perception score(s) [you see a pair of dead shrubs flanking the entrance. If you have already explored Area 2, these shrubs are not present].
1. Search among the weeds for hidden items
You find nothing.
2. Examine the weeds in this cottage
You see nothing unusual about the vegetation here.
However, if the above roll did not beat your passive Perception score, [you may examine the dead shrubs that flank the cottage entrance by making a DC 10 Intelligence (Nature) check. If you succeed, click here].
These ruined, side-by-side cottages look as though they might have been the homes of prosperous shopkeepers of well-off farmers in their time. All that remains are collapsed walls and piles of debris. Several young trees have grown up in the midst of the ruins.
Roll 1d20 + 3. If the result is lower than your passive Perception score(s) [you notice six dead shrubs lurking among the ordinary foliage. Before you can make sense of what they are, they begin to scuttle towards you! Go to number 2 below]. If you entered this area with your wits about you, make a Wisdom (Perception) check instead of using your passive Perception score.
1. If the result of this roll is higher than your Perception
You are surprised by a group of twig like creatures. Go to number 2 below.
Turn to page 63 and use the very first stat block on that page. There are six of these creatures. Roll initiative and begin combat.
When 1 round is over, [two additional twig blights appear via the main entrance and join the fray].
They fight until destroyed.
3. Search the cottage for treasure
If you search the area generally, you find nothing.
However, if you make a point to thoroughly search [the floor, make a DC 10 Wisdom (Perception) check. If successful, turn to page 30 of the adventure booklet and read the ‘Treasure’ section under 2. Blighted Cottages].
Turn to page 30 of the adventure booklet and read 3. The Brown Horse.
This small house appears to be in better condition than the ruined and dilapidated structures nearby. The doors are reinforced with heavy iron bands, and thick shutters protect the windows.
You are greeted by the sight of a gaunt, white-bearded man. He appears to be human.
The man suddenly turns into a grey squirrel and darts out of the cottage through a crack in the wall.
2. Search the place for valuables
Assuming you drove the man away, you could ransack the place and see if there is anything you can take home with you. But you’re wasting your time – there is nothing of value here at all.
3. Speak to the man
The man is quite happy to answer any questions you have. Refer to the ‘Conversations’ spoiler box below, but consider carefully what you will ask beforehand.
As you begin your conversation with this man, you notice that he tends not to waste words and only says as much as necessary to get his point across.
1. Who are you?
The bearded man introduces himself as [Reidoth. He also mentions that he is a druid and he visits this place once in a while].
2. Can you tell me about this area?
This place was once a prosperous community on the outskirts of the forest, but that all changed 30 years ago when Mount Hotenow erupted and brought fiery death from the north.
3. What can you tell me about the dangers in this area?
If you ask about dangerous creatures around the ruins as mentioned on the wooden sign you saw earlier, he recounts a natural disaster that happened 30 years ago.
Thundertree was devastated by the eruption of Mount Hotenow to the north and in its wake, a plague of strange zombies swept over the area and killed or drove away the remaining survivors.
Most of the zombies have since disintegrated into the dust, but several of them still remain.
Moreover, the plant life are also affected, having been mutated into the twisted forms that they bear today – dangerous plants that feed on the living.
4. What are these strange plant creatures?
Click here to know more. Count yourself as having rolled 25 on your Intelligence (Nature) check when reading through the information on that page.
5. What can you tell me about the zombies?
Not much different to your usual zombies, but the man advises you not to get too close if you have to fight them. Doing so is not fatal, but can be a source of irritation that you could do without when you’re trying to fend them off.
6. Are there any other creatures or dangers around here besides walking plants and zombies?
He mentions that [large spiders lurk in the ruins at the base of the hill and suspects that there are folk in black masks and cloaks skulking around in the area].
The biggest threat, however, is undoubtedly the [green dragon] that has moved into the area since the last time he visited these ruins.
He further adds that you should probably leave as soon as possible, if you don’t want to get yourself killed.
7. Do you know where the Cragmaw Castle is?
He gladly gives you directions to the castle, as he has a vested interest in seeing the goblins driven away, himself.
If you wish to go to the castle, click here.
8. Do you know the way to Wave Echo Cave?
He seems unwilling to divulge this information.
However, he is willing to escort you there in exchange for a favour.
If you agree, he would like you to [defeat the dragon.
Or drive it away, at least.
If you agree, the dragon can be found in Area 7.
If you are successful (hah! :p ), he will guide you to where the caves are, but he refuses to enter the caves with you].
This ruin looks as if it might once have been a farmhouse. It is now half swallowed by a dense thicket, with trees growing up through its ruined foundations. The lane continues south a short distance past the ruin before ending in an overgrown field.
1. Rummage through the rubble
Your actions draw the attention of strange plant creatures that respond by attacking you. To know what you are fighting, turn to page 63 and use the very first stat block on the page.
Each round for 3 rounds, two of these creatures appear at the entrance to the north and two appear at the entrance to the south. They fight until destroyed.
At an intersection near the middle of the village, a narrow lane winds up the steep hillside to the north. Directly to the south is a ruined building that might have been a store of workshop. Webs stretch across the lane, from the building to the trees on the north side of the road.
1. Walk through the webs
Make a DC 10 Strength (Athletics) check. If you fail, you are restrained.
Should you attempt to escape the webs, make a DC 12 Strength check in order to try and break free.
If you think to use [a light weapon that deals slashing damage, the webs have an AC of 10 and 5 hit points. Remember that if you are restrained, you have disadvantage on your attack rolls].
If you think to use [fire, the webs burn away easily and you are instantly freed].
Finally, as you make contact with the webs, [two giant spiders scuttle over the wall of the building to the south and attack! They surprise you unless your passive (Perception) score is 17 or higher. Active searching does not help since the spiders were concealed behind the wall].
2. Grab a branch from somewhere and brush away the webs
[two giant spiders scuttle over the wall of the building to the south and attack! They surprise you unless your passive (Perception) score is 17 or higher. Active searching does not help since the spiders were concealed behind the wall].
3. Burn away the webs
The webs burn away very quickly and easily and within seconds, the lane is clear of webbing.
4. Enter the building
You have to get past the webbing first and any attempts to force your way through may result in you getting stuck on the webbing (see number 1). As well, [two giant spiders scuttle over the wall of the building to the south and attack! They surprise you unless your passive (Perception) score is 17 or higher. Active searching does not help since the spiders were concealed behind the wall].
However, if you burn away the webs (number 3) before entering, you may enter freely. When you enter the building, you encounter [2 giant spiders].
5. Search the interior of the building
Provided it is safe to do so, you find a shriveled corpse of a male elf cocooned in the spider silk in the western half of the building. It is still wearing a piece of studded leather armour and a scabbard containing a shortsword. If you spend a bit more time searching [the corpse, you also find a potion of healing in a belt pouch as well as coins totalling 23gp and 35sp].
6. Go round the webs
If you wish to pass the building and explore the ruins to the east, you may elect to bypass the webs and the building altogether.
The thickets on the north side of the road makes this troublesome, but it is possible to go round the actual building to the south. However, if you do this [you are attacked by the creatures in Area 5 (see above) and they attack all at once rather than in waves].
At the top of the hill stands a round tower with a cottage attached. Both are in good condition, although half of the tower’s roof is gone. A door leads into the cottage, and several arrow-slit windows are visible in the tower. You can’t help but notice an eerie quiet in the area and a strange, acrid smell in the air.
The corpses of two hideous giant spiders are sprawled near the edge of the pathway, apparently dragged there. Their bloated bodies are puckered and blistered, and appear to have been mauled by a large animal.
If you are accompanied by Favric, click here.
1. Enter the building
Your may only gain entry to the tower via the cottage.
The interior contains dusty furniture draped in webbing.
While you are in the cottage, you may [rummage through the junk, but despite a thorough search, there is nothing of value].
2. Enter the tower via the door connecting cottage to tower
You open the door and find yourself face to face with a young green dragon (page 63 of the adventure booklet).
You may either attack the dragon or speak with it. If you wish to do the latter, refer to the Conversations spoiler box below.
In any case, you cannot surprise the dragon due to its keen senses.
If you have been rummaging around in the cottage (see number 1), [you are surprised by the dragon who has readied an action to exhale poison at you, unless you succeed on a Wisdom (Perception) check vs the dragon’s Dexterity (Stealth) check.]
In any case, roll initiative and begin combat against the dragon.
However, you could surrender if things are not going well for you. In this case, open the Conversations box below.
If you flee, it will not pursue you if you have inflicted less than a quarter of its hit points. However, if you manage to inflict more damage, the dragon pursues you relentlessly since it sees you as a legitimate threat.
You can avoid this by [ducking into one of the sturdier buildings with a roof].
You may attempt a DC 10 Charisma (Persuasion) check in order to plead mercy.
If you succeed, the dragon says it can spare your lives, but only if you pledge your life to serving it.
If you pledge your life to the dragon, the dragon commands you to search the area around Neverwinter Wood or around the area of Phandalin for sources of great treasure.
It suggests you ask the druid Reidoth where it could be found. If you have already spoken to [Reidoth and he requested that you drive the dragon away in return for guiding you to the Wave Echo Cave and you tell the dragon this, the dragon decides to fake its own defeat by leaving this area (it will return to its lair once Reidoth leaves), so that Reidoth will accompany you to the Wave Echo Cave, From then on, the dragon expects you to clear out the mine and bring it all the treasure you can find].
The dragon would also like to know more about the people that live around this area, so it is interested in knowing more about settlements nearby, particularly smaller settlements such as Phandalin.
And lastly, the dragon warns you that any signs of disobedience, treachery or deceit and you can expect a slow and torturous death. And don’t expect to be able to run away as it will hunt you down – something it is very proficient at.
Should you ask, the dragon is called Venomfang.
A wide chimney and rotted piles of firewood jumbled outside the walls of this sagging building suggest that it was a smithy in its day.
Before you can do anything here, two ash zombies (see page 31 of the adventure booklet) climb to their feet as you enter the building (they spend half their walking speed to do this) and attack.
If you fight, roll initiative.
If you flee, [the zombies pursue you relentlessly, regardless where you go].
1. Search the building for useful items
There is nothing of value, save for some old blacksmith’s tools scattered about.
This ruined shop is cluttered with sagging storage shelves and broken furniture. Shards of glass and pieces of pottery glint in the weeds and rubble next to rotted books and casks.
1. Search the building for useful items
There is nothing here but rotted books and reagents.
However, if you search [beneath the storage shelves, make a DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check. If you are successful, you find a case containing a gold necklace with a fine emerald pendant. It is easily worth 200gp].
If you have spoken to a prisoner of the Redbrands called [Mirna and she has mentioned a heirloom, you automatically find it. Highlight sentence above to see what you find. You may sell it for 200ngp. However, if if there is something else you want to do with it, click here].
On the east side of town, the lane opens up to form a small square. Several ruined buildings surround the south side of the square, but a larger, intact structure to the north looks like a barracks, One lane leads southeast, another heads southwest around the hill in the middle of the town, and a third way meanders north. In the middle of the square, leaning to one side ever so slightly, is a weathered wooden statue of a warrior clutching a spear and shield.
1. Examine the statue
Make a DC 15 Intelligence (History) check. If you are successful, [you recognise that the statue bears the likeness of an old hero of Neverwinter named Palien who was responsible for fending off several monsters from the Neverwinter Wood when the town was founded].
The barracks appears to have weathered the years better than most buildings in town. Its rooftop features a simple battlement, and arrow-slit windows confirm that it was built to serve as a small keep in times of emergency.
Several corpses lay scattered about in this building. Judging by the rusted armour and uniforms they wear, it’s likely that these corpses were once former members of this garrison.
1. Examine the corpses
If you disturb the corpses, [they animate and attack you as ash zombies (page 31 sidebar, Ash Zombies].
2. Search the entire building
There is nothing left here, but rotted foodstuffs in the kitchen and pantry.
Heaps of wreckage litter the interior of this ruin. In one corner stands a broken loom.
1. Enter the building and examine the wreckage
There is nothing of value in this place, but some creatures attempt to sneak up on you. Roll 1d20 + 3 and compare the result to your passive Perception score.
If this result beats your passive Perception score, you are surprised.
If you were alert to danger, you may replace your passive Perception score with your Wisdom (Perception) check instead.
Roll initiative and resolve combat. Turn to page 63 of the adventure booklet and use the first stat block on that page.
2. Scan the interior of the building for signs of danger
If you exercise caution in your approach, make the checks as indicated in number 1, but you are allowed to use your Wisdom (Perception) check instead.
Roll initiative and resolve combat. Turn to page 63 of the adventure booklet and use the first stat block on that page.
This small farmhouse appears to be just another empty home at first glance. However, all the doors are shut and windows shuttered.
1. Enter the building
The door appears to be barred from inside. Examination of the windows reveals that the same is true for the windows as well.
2. Force your way in
To gain access through the barred door, a DC 20 Strength check is required to force it open.
If you try the windows, the DC is 15.
Either way, if you are successful, you are greeted by the sight of men in black cloaks that resemble dragon wings and black masks shaped like dragon’s heads.
Decide what you will do. Once you have done this, click here.
3. Knock on the door
If you do this, you hear the door being unbarred from inside and the door opens…
Go to number 2 above.
Leaving The Ruins of Thundertree
If you wish to return to Phandalin, remember it is roughly 2 days travel from here. Check for random encounters each day, once during the daytime and once during nighttime. Refer to page 27 for details.
I hope you enjoyed this episode of Play It Solo. Look out for Part 5 coming your way soon.
Any questions or comments, positive or otherwise, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.