How to Run Phandelver Ch 1: Goblin Arrows

To run The Lost Mines of Phandevler Chapter 1: Goblin Arrows, you will need to have the following prepared:

  • A grided battle map for the Goblin ambush
  • A grided battle map for Cragmaw Hideout
  • 6 Gobin, 3 wolf, and 1 Bugbear tokens or miniatures
  • An NPC miniature or token for Sildar
  • A voice for the NPC Sildar Hallwinter as well as the goblins and Bugbear
  • Goblin, wolf, and Bugbear stat blocks
  • An Initiative tracker
  • The adventure booklet of Lost Mines of Phandelver

This chapter should take between 3-4 hours to run. There is a lot of combat in this chapter, which can take a long time. If you are new to DND and aren’t sure how combat works, make sure to read my article on how to run combat.

Before Goblin Arrows

Goblin Arrows is the first chapter of the Lost Mine of Phandelver and likely the very first session you will run of this adventure (or maybe even your first session of DND!) So make sure you have done the following before running Goblin Arrows:

Help your players understand their characters

Before your players come to this session, get together to talk about your players’ characters (PCs). This is called a “Session Zero.” It lets all the players get to know each other and lets your players familiarize themselves with the Character Sheet, their own backstory, and abilities.

This is very important if you want the first session to go smoothly! Talk about basic rules, explain combat and spells, and give an overview of the world your PCs will be in.

So, order some take-out (or make something from Heroes Feast to REALLY get into the fantasy setting!) make some potions of healing (my own special recipe!) and talk DND for an hour or so. It will make everyone feel more comfortable when the first session comes around!

Optional: Some DMs like to run a “One Shot” adventure for new parties to let them practice with their new character and party. If you want to do this, check out my Side Quest list, all of them can be used as starting adventures!

Read the Adventure (the WHOLE thing!)

As the DM, it is your job to know where everything is going so that you can drop helpful hints to your players. If you don’t know how the adventure ends, that is impossible!

So, grab your favorite beverage and dedicate 2 or 3 hours to reading the Lost Mine of Phandelver in its entirety. NO SKIPPING SECTIONS.

Does it have to be the book? Can’t I just listen on YouTube? While there are some really great walk-throughs available, I would use those for refreshers only.

You HAVE to read the adventure yourself at least ONCE.

Why? Because during a session, you are going to be reading from and referring to the BOOK, not a YouTube video. So you need to know the layout and where things are.

Read it, mark it up, put sticky notes on important parts, make it a usable resource for YOU.

Making Your Adventure Unforgettable

I find it is much less nerve-racking to run a session if I have gotten everything I know I want to use for the campaign ahead of time. This means buying/making/printing miniatures, maps, terrain pieces, item cards, NPC pages, and anything else I KNOW I will need.

Unexpected things always come up, but if you have a baseline prepared, you won’t be nearly as nervous.

Below you will find all the minis and maps you will need for this chapter, but if you really want to make this an unforgettable experience and don’t mind investing some cash, consider purchasing the following items:

  • A cloth map of Faerun, Cragmaw Castle or Wave Echo Cave– Though they are more expensive than paper maps, cloth maps make a HUGE impression on your players. They are one of my favorite investments as you can reuse them if you run multiple adventures in the same world and you can use them as decorations! The link above is to my absoulte favorite company. In fact, I loved them so much I became an affliate!
  • Cave Terrain PiecesThree times in this adventure your players will be in caves. The main boss battle happens in Wave Echo Cave, so you will need to be prepared for that. These module pieces are a fantastic option as they let you put them together in multiple ways and use them for many adventures to come! The link above is to our Partner, Noble Knight Gaming!
  • Monster Miniatures– There are lots of monsters in this campaign, if you want to go all in, buying and painting miniatures is a great way to add flare to any battle map! The link above is to our Partner, Noble Knight Gaming!

Now that both you and your players are prepped and ready to go, let’s dive into Chapter 1: Goblin Arrows!

Overview of Goblin Arrows

As written, your party starts out on the road to Phandalin with a wagon full of supplies for Gundren Rockseeker. They are traveling “The High Road” from Neverwinter to the mining settlement of Phandalin (about 75 miles.)

The Ambush

When the players turn off the High Road and onto the “Triboar Trail,” they find two dead horses. Investigation shows that these are the horse of Gundren Rockseeker and his fighter companion Sildar Hallwinter.

As the players investigate, four goblins hiding in the underbrush ambush them. After defeating the goblins (hopefully) the players can track the Gundren and Sildar to Cragmaw Hideout.

If the Party Dies

There is a possibility that your level 1 party might die to this ambush. Especially if you have less than 5 players. If that is the case, do not actually kill the players, but say they “fall unconscious.”

Then have them revived by a traveling cleric who helps the party get to Phandalin.

The goblins will take all the player’s starting equipment (and likely their pride) but will otherwise leave them unharmed by the side of the road. In Phandalin, players can get new equipment and go back to the ambush area.

Alternatively, you can have the cleric kill the goblins and retrieve the players’ equipment if you want the party to continue without having to go to Phandalin.

Cragmaw Hideout

Within Cragmaw Hideout are about 20 goblins, 4 wolves, and 1 Bugbear. This Hideout was set up to steal from easy targets making their way from Neverwinter to Phandalin and then send the goods to Cragmaw Castle.

This hideout is a small cavern that the goblins have been using for a while. It has 4 rooms, each of which is labeled on the map and used for a different purpose.

Be sure to read the entire section before the session so you know the layout of the hideout and what events should happen.

Players are intended to move stealthily through the cave, taking out any goblins they find or capturing goblins to interrogate. (Be sure to read the “What the Goblins Know” box to prepare for this!)

Room 6 is the Goblin Den, it holds 6 goblins and Sildar, beaten, stripped of his gear, and nearly unconscious.

Room 8 is Klarg’s Cave, it holds 1 wolf, 2 goblins and the “boss” of the hideout, a Bugbear named Klarg.

Players can learn from either Sildar or Klarg that Grundren and his map have been taken to Cragmaw Castle on the orders of someone called “The Spider.”

After clearing the caves, the players are intended to continue their journey to Phandalin. If the players rescue Sildar successfully, he will urge them to get to Phandalin as quickly as possible.

Clearing Cragmaw hideout and continuing on to Phandalin will end the first chapter of this adventure.

Preparing for Combat in Goblin Arrows

Goblin Arrows is intended to jump-start the adventure and give players an opportunity to get used to combat. Because of this, there is A LOT of combat.

Again, if you have never run combat before, I highly suggest reading my article on how it works.

There are two main locations in this chapter you will need to prepare combat encounters for, The Ambush and Cragmaw Hideout.

The Ambush Encounter

For this encounter you will need the following:

  • Four goblin tokens or miniatures
  • two horse tokens or miniatures
  • Player tokens or miniatures
  • A gridded battle map
  • An initiative tracker

If you are DMing in person, you have a few options for battle maps and miniatures. You can go the simple route and just get a foldable battle map, like the one below and print a few paper miniatures. (Printable Heroes is my favorite option for this. Check out their FREE goblin downloadable minis here!)

If you want to go all out for these encounters, you can build out the battle area and buy plastic miniatures (you can get all that from our partner Noble Knight Games!) Or mix and match any combination of the two!

If you DM online, make sure you have tokens ready for the players and goblins. You also might try using a moving map! They are super cool and add a level of emersion to virtual games.

This one from YouTube is one of my favorites! Plus this creator has moving maps for every encounter in LMoP!

The Purpose of The Ambush

Every encounter has a purpose. In this case, the purpose is for players to realize that Grundren and Sildar are in trouble and that Grundren’s map has been stolen.

Players should want to help Grundren (if only for their own benefit!) and should seek out the goblins that have taken him.

Cragmaw Hideout

This encounter is much more involved. Be sure to read the entire section on Cragmaw Hideout a few times before running it so you aren’t tied to the book.

Here is what you will need:

  • 6 goblin miniatures or tokens (minimum)
  • Player miniatures or tokens
  • 4 wolf miniatures or tokens
  • 1 bugbear miniature or token
  • 1 NPC miniature or token (Sildar)
  • A gridded battle map or terrain of the Hideout
  • An Initiative tracker

Throughout this entire encounter, your players will fight a total of 20 goblins, but they will never see more than 6 at a time. This is why I say 6 miniatures should be enough to run this encounter.

Fighting is loud and, normally, fighting in one area of a hideout would bring all the baddies in the area to the location of the fight. But, Cragmaw Hideout has a river running through the middle of it.

The loud sound of rushing water will drown out the sounds of combat and prevent the players from being overwhelmed.

The Purpose of Cragmaw Hideout

The purpose of this encounter is twofold, first, to find out what happened to Gundren Rockseeker and Sildar Hallwinter, second, to introduce the villain of the adventure, The Black Spider. (you can get the awesome paper minis below at Printable Heroes!)

By clearing the Hideout, saving Sildar, or interrogating one of the goblins, the players will learn new and useful information that will move the plot forward.

No matter what, your players should learn the following from this encounter:

  • The map Gundren had was to the lost “Wave Echo Cave.”
  • Gundren and his map are now in Cragmaw Castle.
  • Someone called “The Black Spider” is pulling the strings and knew about Gundren and his map days before he left Neverwinter.

Preparing for Role Play in Goblin Arrows

When preparing to interact with players during this chapter, you will need to think through the following characters:

  • the goblins
  • Yeemik (second-in-command)
  • Klarg (Boss)
  • Sildar (Human companion of Gundren)

Role Playing the Goblins

DND has come a long way in regards to goblin culture, and if you want to look into that, it can be a really fun read! However, in this case, I would say the simpler the better.

Keep the following characteristics in mind when role-playing a Cragmaw goblin:

  • Greedy: each goblin is out for their own gain.
  • Evil: While not always the case, Cragmaw Goblins are inherently evil.
  • Disloyal: goblins hold no loyalties and have no honor. Anything goes!
  • Deceitful: goblins will say anything to get what they want. They will lie about what they know and gladly trick any creature willing to believe them. Backstabbing and lying are a way of life!

These goblins are intended to be the enemy. They should be evil creatures only concerned about their own well being. They have no loyalties and are willing to tell the PCs everything they know if they think it will save their lives.

What the Goblins Know

The following information is important to remember if your players have the presence of mind to capture a goblin alive and interrogate it.

All of the goblins at Cragmaw Hideout know the following information:

  • Fewer than 20 goblins currently live at Cragmaw Hideout.
  • Their leader is a bugbear named Klarg. He answers to King Grol, chief of the Cragmaw tribe, who dwells in Cragmaw Castle.
  • Cragmaw Castle is about 20 miles north of the Hideout in Neverwinter Wood.
  • Klarg received a messenger goblin from King Grol a few days ago. The messenger told him that someone named the Black Spider was paying the Cragmaws to watch out for the dwarf Gundren Rockseeker, capture him, and send him and anything he was carrying back to King Grol. Klarg followed his orders. Gundren was ambushed and taken along with his personal effects, including map.
  • The dwarf and his map have already been delivered to King Grol, as instructed.
  • The dwarf’s human companion, Sildar, is being held in the “eating cave.”

While giving players information, make sure to keep the Cragmaw goblin characteristics in mind. Just because a goblin knows something, doesn’t mean they have to tell or tell accurately! Feel free to lie to your players or try to deceive them, that’s what Insight checks are for!

Role Playing Yeemik

Who is this? No one really. This is the second in command of the Cragmaw Hideout. He is in the “Goblin Den” (room 6) guarding Sildar. Use the normal goblin characteristics mentioned above for him as well.

The only thing Yeemik adds to this encounter is a stand-off. When players first enter this room, Yeemik will grab the barely conscious Sildar and threaten to throw him off a cliff unless the players agree to a “truce.”

Yeemik wants Klarg dead so he can take over the Cragmaw Hideout. If players agree to this deal and kill Klarg, when they return having held up their end of the bargain, Yeemik will try to force the players to pay a hefty ransom in exchange for Sildar’s life.

If players refuse to a truce or pay the ransom, Yeemik will throw Sildar from the cliff and attempt to escape.

Role Playing Klarg

Klarg is probably the most entertaining monster to role play in Cragmaw Hideout. He fancies himself a “warlord” and isn’t entirely sane, which is always fun!

When role-playing Klarg, try this!

  • Always refer to yourself in the third person, “Who dares defy Klarg the mighty?”
  • Give yourself titles, the bigger the better! Examples: Klarg the decimator, Klarg the bone collector, Undefeated General of Mayhem”
  • Mock and ridicule others, be they goblin or foe.

However mighty the bugbear pretends to be, he is not above fleeing from a fight. If his pet wolf is killed or if the goblins with him are killed, he will attempt to escape down the natural chimney shaft to level area 3.

As Klarg runs away, I would suggest yelling something like, “You have not seen the last of the brilliant and mighty Klarg! Klarg will rise again and you will be sorry you filthy, slimy maggots!

Role Playing Sildar

If players manage to save Sildar from his fall, he will accompany them to Phandalin. While interacting with the party as Sildar, keep the following in mind:

Sildar is:

  • Genuinely kind-hearted and concerned for others.
  • A 50 year old human who is wise and thoughtful.
  • A high ranking member of the Griffon Cavalry of Waterdeep and an agent of the Lord’s Alliance
  • Concerned for Phandalin. He hopes to restore order and civilization to the area.
  • Worried about an old friend, Iarno Albrek, who went to Phandalin a while ago and has not been heard of since.

If the party starts asking Sildar questions, he has some useful pieces of information he can share.

Sildar knows:

  • The history of the Mine of Phandelver, called Wave Echo Cave and the “Phandelver’s Pact” (this can be found in the “background” section at the start of the booklet, and you can basically read the first two paragraphs to your players.)
  • That the three Rockseeker brothers (Gundren, Tharden, and Nundro) recently found the lost Wave Echo Cave.
  • Klarg, the bugbear had orders to capture Gundren and send him to Cragmaw Castle on orders of someone called “The Black Spider.” (Sildar has no idea who the Black Spider might be)
  • Gundren was carrying a map that showed the location of Wave Echo Cave and now it is at Cragmaw Castle. (Sildar has no idea where that is)
  • Sildar was helping Gundren in hopes of reopening the mine and reestablishing Phandalin as a place of peace and prosperity.
  • Sildar has a second reason to go to Phandalin. A friend of his, Iarno Albrek, a human wizard and fellow member of the Lord’s Alliance, went to Phandalin has not been heard of since. Sildar wants to investigate his disappearance. (Sildar has no idea Iarno now goes by Glass Staff and is the leader of the Red Brands)

Bring Sildar to Life

As with any NPC, you should strive to make Sildar memorable. You can do this in a variety of ways, here are a few of my favorites!

  • Have Sildar tell long and pointless stories constantly (literally everything, “Reminds me of a time when…)
  • Have Sildar go on and on about philosophy, particularly about goblin culture and how “This is a classic example of how toxic environments and conditioning led to very poor outcomes.
  • Give him a catch phrase that he exclaims often, such as, “By Tiamat’s tail!” or “By my plate armor!”
  • Make him fatherly (or even grandfatherly) constantly trying to “help” the party by giving them life advice or “fixing” things.

These small touches will go a long way in making Sildar a memorial NPC for your adventure (and maybe even adventures to come!)

I hope this guide gives you the confidence to run this first chapter of Lost Mine of Phandelver. See you in Chapter Two!

May your game have advantage, my friends!

-Halfing Hannah

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