DISCLAIMER: The whole question has spoilers about Lost Mine of Phandelver.
So, I went through the Redbrand Hideout with my party. They
entered by the tunnel (so, straight to area 8), fought and defeated the Nothic.
This fight was the one they used most resources - two 1st level spell slots from the 2nd level Cleric for healing, Lay on Hands from the Paladin for healing (7 HP out of the 10 total HP pool), Hunter's Mark from the Ranger for damage. Also, the Paladin used one divine smite.
After that, they
found the secret door to area 12 through area 7, surprising Glasstaff. Even though he was surprised, I had pre-cast Mage Armor on him, making him AC 15, and gave him the reaction (yeah yeah I know surprised doesn't have reaction) for using the Staff of Defense for Shield (+5 AC).
Our Druid used Faerie Fire on the enemy, as the first person moving. He failed the ST, making every other attack against him have advantage. Our Paladin had the +1 Longsword from
the Nothic hoard treasure (they jumped the hole).
He critted, with divine smite, dealing 6d8 + 4 (31 average) damage. So... yeah, Glasstaff was unconscious before being able to make any action or reaction.
Is the fight (and the dungeon as a whole) supposed to be that easy? I understand that they skipped essentially every content on the dungeon, making literally the fastest path to Glasstaff they could make, but still... Everyone's left with a feeling of "really? Was it supposed to be that easy? I'm confused."
I'm running this adventure for the first time, so I'm not sure about: did I do something wrong? - did I misplay Glasstaff or something? Were they just too lucky in finding the secret door, getting to surprise him and critting him?
Am I mistaken and the real challenge begins now, as they are mostly drained out of resources, and there's still much dungeon to explore?
As a note: Glasstaff roled for an amazing 3 initiative, so even if he wasn't surprised, he would be unconscious (PCs didn't kill him) before his first round anyway.
I am sincerely confused about how easy this "dungeon" and its "boss" was. As I said, the main "questions" (I think they are all related, so no "more than one question" here) are:
- Is this supposed to be this easy?
- If it is not, did I do something wrong?
- If it is, is there something I can change (the next time) so it actually becomes more challenging?
I'm aware that Glasstaff encounter gives only 200 XP, being a CR1 monster against 4 2nd level characters, so pretty easy encounter. But should it have been different, overall?
And, as I mention in the body
- Am I mistaken and the real challenge begins now, as they are mostly drained out of resources, and there's still much dungeon to explore?
Probably implied for now, but the party this time had only 2nd level characters, one Druid, one Paladin, one Ranger and one Cleric. To be fair, they aren't even worried about optimization.
I don't feel like I have played the NPCs/monsters wrong. As I said, the Nothic itself drained a lot of resources from the party - 2 out of 3 spell slots from the Cleric, 1 out of 2 spell slots from the Ranger, 1 out of 2 spell slots from the Paladin, dropping the Cleric and the Paladin to half HP and the Ranger to half HP as well.
Glasstaff, on the other hand, with his miserable 22 HP and (even with) 20 AC, got pretty easily hit by the +6 attack bonus from the paladin (+1 LS) (it actually critted, as I said, so that doesn't even matter) and +7 attack bonus from the Ranger (+2 from archery, +5 from usual).