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I'm a new DM running LMoP for brand new players. So far we had three sessions, and last time they

cleared out the whole Redbrand Hideout, killed Glasstaff and all.

My problem is, they threatened their way into the Sleeping Giant, so I'm missing three ruffians and I don't want to say they were the ones resting, as seven ruffians in total is a bit too few. The adventure says

Halia wants to subtly rule the town by taking over the gang for the Zhentarim,

What would her plan be, and how am I to proceed, now that her force of ruffians is reduced? As a new DM I don't have a lot of experience to fall back on. I am looking for answers from DM's who have run LMoP, and how they solved this problem.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Susi, I have edited your question to better fit our format. When asking for input, we have to be a bit careful on how we present a problem to be solved in the SE format, since we try to avoid the "brainstorming" method of internet forums. Welcome to RPG.SE. I see you've taken the tour. You might want to do a quick on-site search using the search terms tags [dnd-5e] and Lost Mines or LMoP to see what other issues new DMs have had with that adventure. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jun 7 '18 at 13:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ I voted to close as "opinion-based", since the adventure text doesn't provide any details for this situation, leaving it up to the DM. \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Jun 7 '18 at 13:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @enkryptor: Just because there is not an explicit solution for this in the book does not make this question opinion-based. In fact, this question is asking something that is very much answerable here if they are based on experience. There is even a FAQ about this: Does "Ask the DM / GM" equate to "Primarily opinion based?" \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jun 7 '18 at 13:47
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Disclaimer: everything here has LMoP spoilers. I don't intend to mark them as such, since it's a very LMoP-specific question, and anyone reading the answers should (probably) be a DM running it anyway.

Reaction against the party

It is implied she's fine with that.

In the Joining the Zhentarim section for Halia, it says

Even if the party wipes out the Redbrand gang, Halia might still extend the offer in an effort to gain friends (and spies) within the party.

So, for me, it implies she is at least fine with that, if there is a character that draws her attention, she will invite them anyway. This means she probably holds no grudge on the party.

Also, the book only mentions

100 gp to eliminate the Redbrand leader, [...], and bring her any correspondence found in the leader's quarter.

Nowhere in the quest she mentions she wants the Redbrands alive - nor it's stated in the book as a caveat for DM-only to know. Again, that implies it's fine.

Her domination plan

The thing is: LMoP is a short adventure. In-game time, it takes a few days/weeks, depending on how your players/PCs are acting. That is one of the main reasons most of the faction plans, alliances and details are not presented - by playing only LMoP, there is not enough time to actually see any of them happening. An explicit example of that intent is

Wheter Iarno stands trial for his crimes is beyond the scope of this adventure.

Other than that, it is up to you and how you intend to keep the campaign going. If you are going to end it as soon as LMoP ends, I would not worry about it too much. There isn't much interaction between the party and the Zhentarim or with Halia left.

Otherwise, if you are going to follow up with another published adventure (preferably one that is set in the Forgotten Realm, which good for you - almost all of them are), check what the Zhentarim are doing in that adventure. Without knowing how you will follow up, it's hard to tell you anything.

My run

Personally, I'm currently running LMoP for a few new players and they are very... murderous. They didn't get to Glasstaff yet, but they should in the next session - and it's very likely that they will be killing everything in the way. They keep one prisioner to get info and kill everything else. And the prisioner is usually mutilated during the combat where he was incapacitated. Glasstaff will probably survive though, since he explicitly asks for mercy and the party is very friendly with Sildar. The adventure takes place inside a homebrew campaign that will contain many published adventures along some homebrew factions from me. I hope this doesn't make it a Bad Subjective answer, as I haven't used my own solution yet. I believe I have enough experience in DM'ing and that experience is translated here, even if this particular solution wasn't tried out yet.

This is how I'm planning to run it:

  • Halia is going to reward them anyway, as long as the PCs deliver the correspondence as well. I disagree with Hamstertron interpretation that Halia wants Glasstaff dead - she wants him out of his leader position (that's how I read "eliminating" him). As long as he can't come back, it's fine, which means being sent to Neverwinter is a solid solution for her.
  • She will stay in the city, keeping to grow influence and creating a spy network around.
  • If the party succeeds in the adventure, Phandalin will actually be their stronghold from now on - Halia's network of spies will either be powerful allies for them or the biggest problem in running the city. That depends on later interactions with the party that are not described in LMoP.

I don't intend to make her have any interactions with the Black Spider simply because the Drow should die in the end of the adventure, so she overthrowing him is awkward, and allying with him would make her an enemy for the party, which I don't want to make so soon. Rather, when the Lost Mine is recovered, she also has plans for that.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, that's fair. :) Thanks for the heads up! Actually I marked it because it solves two of my current problems in one. We've talked with the group and I intend to continue with homebrew content after we've finished this, everyone is really attached to their characters, and if you don't mind I'd like to run with the Lost Mine idea. Halia-problem solved and logical follow-up for the campaign. \$\endgroup\$ – Susi Jun 7 '18 at 20:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Susi I don't mind at all. I'm actually happy my ideas can help other people :) if you are running a homebrew after the LMoP, I would suggest you to think about current NPCs motivations/goals, their personalities and reuse them the way you like for the future. The way I'm running it is one of the possibilities, but there are others - do what you find more fun \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Jun 8 '18 at 1:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hey @HellSaint- please see page 17 in the LMoP adventure book. Right at the bottom it says "A DC 15 Wisdom (Insight) check indicates she has ulterior motives for wanting the Redbrand leader dead.", if that helps clarify what Halia meant by "eliminate". \$\endgroup\$ – Hamstertron Jun 8 '18 at 13:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Hamstertron that's a fair reading. Mine is more along the lines of "she wants him dead, but will pay for him getting out of the scene anyway". For every purpose of Halia's plan in LMoP - or in my homebrew campaign, in this case - Glasstaff/Iarno going to jail is a good enough solution for her. As a side note: she's not all-knowing. The players can try and lie to her that he's dead or that there was no specific correspondence in the desk. It's not like she's asking for the head as proof :P \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Jun 8 '18 at 17:56
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The LMoP book does not give enough detail about Halia and her plans so much is left up to you, as GM, as to what happens next.

The book explicitly mentioned two success criteria:

  1. Glasstaff must die.
  2. The players must deliver the papers from his desk to Halia.

If they do these things then, regardless of Halia's feelings about collateral damage, she should give them the full monetary reward.

Elsewhere in the book the main body of Redbrands is described as mercenaries and outlaws who were recruited. The GM notes for the Redbrand Hideout armoury indicate that the Redbrands were planning on recruiting more members in the near future. With this in mind it's possible that Halia does not care how many Redbrands survive the player's actions as she will simply recruit more to replace the dead.

Halia clearly places value on the information the players can extract from the Redbrand Hideout. The Zhentarim have the stated goal of control through taking over power structures and Glasstaff's documents will reveal the structure of the Redbrands and their connection to the Black Spider. Again, the book makes no mention of any follow-up to this so it's GM's discretion as to whether Halia will seek to eliminate and replace the black spider or attempt to work with them and bring them under Zhentarim control.

It it worth noting that Sildar Hallwinter prefers to capture Glasstaff alive so he can answer to the Lord's Alliance. The party will need to choose between Sildar and Halia's intentions for Glasstaff and so you will need to decide if this affects her reward if the players keep him alive but deliver his documents to her.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I am not certain that eliminated = dead when it comes to Halia's plans for Glasstaff. I think she just wants him out of the picture. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Jun 8 '18 at 7:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri I appreciate that "eliminated" has many meanings however the bottom of page 17 of my copy of the LMoP from the Starter Set says "A DC 15 Wisdom (Insight) check indicates she has ulterior motives for wanting the Redbrand leader dead." which is pretty explicit. \$\endgroup\$ – Hamstertron Jun 8 '18 at 12:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good spot. It does indeed clarify the point. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Jun 8 '18 at 12:53

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