A recap from the next leg of our group's adventurous D&D5e adventures, as written by +Ed Northcott
Our intrepid dwarven lynch pin, Sarge, once again collected a motley crew of fools to help him clean up the mess that his other so-called "friends" had left. Not droop, but the various messes of an adventuring sort.
Rin seems to have shuffled off (probably with some loot), Ekememnon simply wandered off (likely for fiendish purposes), Korum disappeared on an "extended hunting expedition" (conveniently after a certain lass in town used the phrase "We need to talk about us."), and Varis may very well have disappeared into the mysterious miasma that has begun to leak out of the crevice beneath the keep.
So Sarge gathered three more fools... er, intrepid heroes... to join him in clearing out the flaming skull from the spell forge: Eramus, a mad but powerful spellcaster who converses with voices that nobody else can hear; Ulf Grimfang, a skilled woodsman and deadly hunter, possessed of bestial blood and a hatred of werewolves; and Sir Dane Lionheart, a young knight and lordling devoted to Torm and the Order of the Gauntlet, who's family has fought alongside Sarge for two generations now.
Ulf agreed to help Sarge, in exchange for reinforcements when he attempted to track down the beasts (possibly werewolves -- or maybe the work of a certain dragon) who had been attacking travellers.
The group functioned well as a team. Sarge and Sir Dane functioned as a bulwark against threat, while Ulf and Eramus attacked from a distance. They made short work of the skull, shattering it swiftly and dousing it in holy water to prevent it from rising again.
After a brief rest with the dwarves, the group set out to investigate the rumours of danger on the roads. Sure enough, they soon came upon an overturned cart laden with farming supplies, two half-eaten horses, and evidence of people having been attacked.
Two days into the woods, they found the mangled corpses of the couple; likely farmers who were coming to start a new life in Phandalin. The tracks indicated that the beasts that did it were not so large as to be a dragon, but were quite dangerous in themselves, and had returned to the site of the attack several times, as well as dragging this poor pair off to devour them. It was not the behaviour of normal animals.
Ulf continued to track the beasts, following a stream, with the other three following to provide support, until they reached the foothills. Eventually they found a waterfall pouring from a cave some 15' up a steep cliff face, and evidence pointed there. Upon investigating, Ulf discovered three owlbears; two of normal size, and one unusually large one.
The rest waited outside. Flasks of oil were poured on the ground, and wooden stakes set behind it; behind which Sarge and Sir Dane took up position, with Eramus further back to provide support from range. Ulf attempted to sneak in and lure the beasts out... but stepped on a stray branch and attracted the attention of the owlbears.
He barely survived his flight from the cave -- though survive it he did, managing to get behind Sarge and Sir Dane, while Erasmus used a spell to light up the oil once the owlbears were on top of it, attacking the pair of warriors. The stakes and fire helped weaken them, but the battle was still fierce, with both Sarge and Sir Dain taking a beating from the beasts, while Erasmus and Ulf peppered them with spells and arrows. Though things looked tight, the group managed to dispatch the monsters without taking casualties.
Upon investigating the owlbear cave, they discovered a cot and supplies, as well as a pouch of goodberries, and a hole in the cave ceiling. Evidence pointed to a Druid making it his home. The group lay in wait, but the Druid was wise to their presence, and used powerful spells to attack them in the night; giant centipedes followed by a wall of flame. As the group were dangerous enough to have dispatched the owlbears, the druid was wary enough to do corall them from hiding, and demand they leave immediately or die. As the group was soundly getting their asses kicked, they pretended to have dignity and left after reviving Erasmus (who had lost consciousness when struck by the wall of flame), with Sir Dain telling the Druid to appear in Phandalin, to answer for the actions of his owlbears.
The Druid was wary enough (aka, the DM decided not to go for a TPK) to avoid engaging the group further, whereas the group then set about limping two days through the woods to get back to Phandalin, heal up, and report word of the Druid to the Order of the Gauntlet, the Harpers, and anybody else with a vested interest in the common good and the firepower to stop him.
Lots of combat, lots of danger, no loot. The group is down a few wooden stakes and a couple flasks of oil (which are easy enough to replace). All in all, Sir Dain is quite chuffed about the experience; deadly and tense as Hell at points, but the common good has been served, and dangers to the people of the area either removed or significantly weakened.