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?

Party setup

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.

Tactical comment

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).

  • \$\begingroup\$ I had a similar experience running this, and as a new DM, I wondered what I had done wrong. The players got by the Nothic by feeding it a couple corpses, and they ended up entering Iarno's study through the secret entrance. They pulled off a surprise attack, and Iarno rolled really poorly for initiative. He died before ever getting a turn. I think if I were to run it again, I would probably either fudge the rules and let him burn Shield spells, or have an alarm on the door, preventing a sneak attack. \$\endgroup\$
    – zeel
    Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 20:32

10 Answers 10


No, you did nothing wrong.

There are a few things here that stand out to me regarding the Glassstaff fight on which I can elaborate a bit.

Surprise is very powerful

Average damage and healing numbers compared to average hit point pool sizes just mean that the most effective way to win a fight is simply to put out more damage faster than the opposing party. Surprise helps a lot with this.

Smite + Crit = Ouch

Paladins are notorious for their crit smites. It is indeed correct that a crit will also double the damage dice of a smite, so when it happens there's not much you can do but smile, be happy that your paladin got their moment in the spotlight, and say goodbye to your monster. This is a big part of why some people play paladins and it does use quite a bit of their daily resources.

Low level encounters are very swingy

Low level encounters are in my experience quite hard to balance, simply because your players' resources are still very limited; their hit point pools are very small, so a single (un)lucky roll from a monster can knock them out. They have few spell slots to mitigate incoming dangers. They have only one attack per turn and low attack bonuses, so a little bit of bad luck means the whole party might put out no damage at all for a whole round. This means that you have to be very careful with setting your monsters' hit point maxima and average damage outputs, or a fight can turn very sour very quickly - at low levels at least. This also means that it's generally better (depending on your group's desired playstyle of course) to make encounters a bit easier than normal.

The action economy

5e takes great care to make sure that the action economy is kept stable, that means creatures (monsters, npcs and players alike) must have a very good reason to be able to make more than one action per turn (with the exception of legendary and lair actions for higher level boss monsters, which only exist to fix exactly the problem in this case). This, again in combination with the way the combat works (more damage faster wins), means that a group of four versus a single enemy has a huge advantage, because the single enemy has only a quarter of the actions available and is a lot more vulnerable to bad luck.

What you could do differently next time

Make it harder to surprise the enemy

Maybe the wizard had cast alarm on the other side of the secret door, so he knows someone is there, or make the secret door harder to find.

Dynamically scale up a monster's max hit points

This is something I do a lot. My players usually play pretty optimized, so if it looks like an encounter is about to face an abrupt and anticlimactic ending, I simply retcon a monster's hit point maximum to a higher value that is still within their hit dice range. So for example "Glassstaff", who uses the statblock of an evil mage has 5d8 hit points, or 22 on average. In this case I might have just increased his maximum to the actual maximum, 40 (5 * 8), which would have left him with 9 hit points after an average critical smite, so he could at least act once.

Balance the number of opponents

After all, that's what the guard quarters two doors further down is meant for. Either have a few guards in the room already, delivering a report or whatever to their boss, or have them join the combat mid-fight, because they might have heard a noise. Although, if your players made sure to prevent that scenario, either by clearing out nearby guard quarters or, eg., casting silence to muffle the combat noise, make sure to give them the advantage from such careful preparation.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Even a bit late, I'm about to run LMOP as my first DnD game and first GM/DM experience. Your tips for balance encounters and dungeons will be very useful, thanks a lot. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zoma
    Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 12:56
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Additionally, the adventure states Glassstaff has a rat familiar that can help prevent him from being surprised. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 18, 2023 at 15:31

Is this supposed to be this easy?

Easy? Well, they carefully investigated and found the tunnel, and then searched around trying to find the best approach. It sounds to me like your party used good tactics and accomplished their objectives. They prepared themselves and the "battlefield," for success.

Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.

Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.
~ Sun Tzu

You may be focusing too much on the "combat" end of things, and not as much on all the things they had to do in order to make the combat part that easy. Glassstaff himself really isn't all that powerful when alone, particularly if surprised, and the party did exactly what they were supposed to in order to catch him by surprise.

I certainly understand asking the question, though. When I ran this dungeon, we had a similar experience, except instead of defeating the Nothic they befriended it, and got it to give them some information about the prisoners in the dungeon and where Glassstaff was hiding. They also had a feeling of "wait, it was that easy?", when really it was that they proceeded carefully and made it that easy for themselves by getting the information they needed instead of just barging through the front door killing everything in sight.

I don't think the party, or you, did anything wrong, and the story proceeded as it should have based on the decisions they made. If they think that it was easy, then sure, say it was easy.

If it is, is there something I can change (the next time) so it actually becomes more challenging?

First of all, the next time you run it you probably will have players do things differently, and might get less lucky or be less careful, so it may end up being more challenging.

Secondly, there's not really a need for every single encounter to be "challenging". Let me digress for a little bit. Mark Rosewater, the lead designer for Magic: the Gathering, talks a lot about game design in general. (And when you're a DM, you're basically acting as a game designer in a lot of ways.) In his article "Ten Things Every Game Needs", there's a concept which has really struck me about gaming in his Thing #5, Inertia:

What do I believe is the number-one problem game designers have with the first game they design? Game length. A well-crafted game should end before the player wants to stop playing.

Your game has to end as early as you can make it end. It's much better to have a game that you wanted to last longer than one that you wanted to stop earlier. You'll play the first one again, possibly right away, and you might never return to play the second one. The trick to doing this is to set up your game so that it pushes the players towards completion.

I'm sure you've experienced the pain of playing a board game that drags on too long, until nobody cares who wins anymore and everybody just wants it to end. Whereas if a game is too short, you can always say "let's play again" as long as people are having fun.

You can think of each encounter or scene in an RPG as being its own game (or round of a game, or whatever). It going on too long and losing peoples' interest is much more of a problem than being too short and people needing to move on to the next scene. You only really need to worry about things being so short and easy that it stops being fun.

So I think the only thing to really change is to ensure that your players are still having fun, and perhaps to help emphasize that the preparation and careful investigation that they're doing is really helping them with the direct combat aspects of the game. Maybe have an NPC relay a proverb like "Knowing the dragon's lair is half the hunt" or the like (and I'm sure you can come up with something better than that).

When I was DM for LMoP, it was with only two players, and while I adjusted encounters to have less monsters to help compensate, they really took an approach of trying to find the back door, and get in and get out as quickly as possible, which was really a fun way to play. Assuming your players like a similar approach and don't just want a full hack-and-slash fest, avoiding combat where possible should be rewarded much like you've done.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I would not say they "carefully" investigated anything. They literally decided for the tunnel randomly, and went for the secret door by chance hahahaha But I can see your point, that being intended or not doesn't change the actions which made it "easier". \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 14:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HellSaint Heh. Well, not all the luck of the game comes from dice. As in life, sometimes everything just happens your way. And sometimes it doesn't. \$\endgroup\$
    – user37158
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 15:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ I tossed in a couple of quotes from Sun Tzu that supports your initial point. Keep it if you like it, revert if you think it's over the top. Your core point about them using smarts to set up a victory is a very good one; DM's IMO ought to reward and recognize that kind of good thinking/tactics. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 22, 2019 at 13:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HellSaint How did they randomly decide to use the tunnel? They shouldn't be able to find it unless they talked to Carp Alderleaf at the farm (LMoP pg.18), so they either did some proper investigating or they should not have found the tunnel. \$\endgroup\$
    – zigagiz
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 20:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ziga they did talk to Carp. What I meant by randomly is that they had no evidence that the tunnel was in any way safer than any other possible entrance. They literally threw a coin to decide whether they should enter using the tunnel or not. \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    Commented May 1, 2019 at 1:55

After having reviewed the module in preparation to DM, there are some things which stood out.

Glasstaff is given lots of treatment for roleplaying, and he's supposed to be that affable evil type of villain that invites the party to have coffee, "means no harm", and offers full tail-between-legs surrender. As a wizard, he's more of a "roleplay boss" than a "combat boss". As such the challenge isn't defeating him (although it can be if they just fought through the entire hideout). The real challenge he presents is a complication. What should you do with a previous Lords' Alliance wizard who:

  • Was goaded into attacking by threats
  • Has manners
  • Admits defeat quickly
  • Complies with the party and awaits judgement by authorities (who are somewhat lacking in town)

Additionally, the module encourages you to be really open with hooks. It's possible to skip most of the adventure only at cost of being underlevelled! Hooks such as the secret entrance to the hideout are things you should keep quiet in subtle ways, unless you think the shortcut is narratively the best choice. You can require that the party chooses to stay at Qelline's farm before they meet Carp, and he can be playing in the backyard and feel shy that his mother might judge him for playing near the Hideout, requiring that the party be alone with him at your convenience. Only then, he opens up and eagerly spills his story.

Managing Story Hooks

The shortcut seems to be a mechanism by which you can allow parties who've skipped Cragmaw Hideout to resolve Redbrand Hideout safely before being pushed back to finish Cragmaw Hideout. And until they do finish Cragmaw Hideout, you have the option of keeping a lot of Cragmaw Castle hooks dormant.

This kind of subtle string-pulling by carefully managing active hooks serves two roles in pretty much any campaign.

  1. Firstly it allows you to delay the party in order to feed them XP for an encounter they aren't ready for by using material you've rehearsed or can generate randomly.

  2. It also allows you to keep the party from being pulled in too many directions at once. When they're jumping between plots all the time, they don't get the hit of pleasure from riding a plot arc to its conclusion. And when that happens, the story feels aimless and doesn't come to life because they're either lost for what to do or it feels like the NPCs are just sitting for months waiting on the players.

    I don't think you did anything wrong. I think you did things correctly. What I think is that you need a little bit more experience under your belt at building, managing, and releasing storytelling tension. Plot hooks are your tool to do that. Some hooks build tension (like being faced with random encounters, dwindling resources, or ethical decisions) and some hooks release it (like shortcuts and magic items).

It takes a while to build the sense for tension and how to control it. You, and your players, felt the tension. You were all engaged in the game. And then because the module didn't explicitly say when to use hooks, you accidentally undermined most of that tension. That's where the feeling of "too easy" and "is this all?" came from!

As a final note, one narrative element in Lost Mine of Phandelver is the question "who becomes the new governance of this young town?". It's not highlighted very much in the module, but all of those factions are there for a few purposes. They fight over control of Phandalin, as it is a budding city (it will grow very quickly once Wave Echo is known). They fight over control of the player characters. Most importantly, they form hooks and bonds that player characters carry into new adventures you GM with them!

A great example of faction hooks is that the Cult of the Dragon shows up. If you mess about for 2 or 3 levels after this adventure, they'll be the perfect hook to invoke a Rise of Tiamat campaign. Favric and Reidoth have a fascinating conflict of interest with regards to the dragon, the centerpiece of Ruins of Thundertree that make it worth using. You could entirely remove the ruins from the itinerary and never mention Reidoth if you feel that it's not relevant to the story you're telling.

Play up the small conflicts over Phandalin's future and the dragon in Thundertree Ruins! They're major roleplaying dilemmas the players can face that can have really interesting consequences if you continue with the same characters' adventures. In time, you'll become more deliberate about what you choose to present the players, and what you choose to keep.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ This is one of the better answers I've seen to this kind of question for new DMs - particularly your exposition on story hook management. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 22, 2019 at 13:26

You could play this a different way

Glasstaff alone is a solitary CR1 Evil Mage. It is no match for a level 2 party. The meeting with Glasstaff is described as a social encounter, rather than a combat one. The book has the whole "Roleplaying Iarno" section, explaining his motivations and possible behavior. Coming through the secret door, the party sees a lone unarmed man, reading at his desk:

Sitting at the desk is a short, dark-bearded human male in robes, studying a tome.

You asked to roll for initiative, so you treat this as a combat situation; that means it's the PC who silently attacked first without saying a word. I don't know the motivations behind your players' characters, maybe killing execution-style a human being on sight is perfectly normal for them.

However, according to the adventure text, The Glasstaff would cling to his life:

He values his life more that anything, and he remains a model prisoner in the hopes that the Black Spider will somehow learn of his predicament and "arrange for his freedom."

The book explicitly says he surrenders rather than fights to death. Seeing a group of armed men, breaking into his quarters, he probably would scream something like "Stop, don't kill me, let's talk", try to parley and possibly deceive them.

The book also implies PCs would capture and interrogate Iarno:

If he is questioned while in captivity, Iarno relates the following information, all of which is true: ...

How to nudge players to social interactions

Don't ask to roll for initiative before the fight actually begins.

Compare this:

— You open a door and see a human male in robes, studying a tome. Roll for initiative!

to this:

— You open a door and see a human male in robes, studying a tome. What do you do?

Surprised condition doesn't mean a character are sitting still for 6 seconds, like paralyzed. Considering the fact that characters act simultaneously, feel free to include some talking into combat. Be creative! An evil mage could say he is actually a prisoner. A hired thug could ask for mercy. A poor goblin could beg for his life right before a paladin's mace smashes his head. It is the possibility tabletop RPGs give us comparing to pre-written scenarios in computer games.

  • \$\begingroup\$ They didn't kill him, only knocked him unconscious. But yeah, they entered the place, saw someone who matches consistently with the description of the Redbrands' leader (which they got through almost-torture interrogation of one from the Ruffian encounter) and attacked straight-forward. The crit essentially made Glasstaff go from 22 to 0, so I didn't have much time for the Stop please don't kill me thing. I could have Deus Ex that, made him live with 1 HP and then start the talking though. Hmm, that's an idea. \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 15:17
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @HellSaint he actually could start talking before the attack. Surprised doesn't mean paralyzed. \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 15:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ After jumping on Glasstaff and unceremoniously killing him, if the party then reads Glasstaff's tome I'd be tempted as DM to say "Picking up the blood splattered book, you read written in the margin 'I have hidden 1,000 gp and a great magical weapon in the Caverns of Aaarrrghh . . .' ". :-) \$\endgroup\$
    – RobertF
    Commented Feb 27, 2019 at 21:40

The true difficulty is split throughout the entire hideout

In this instance it is quite easy for a well prepared (And potentially lucky, in respect to the secret door) to cut the head off the snake.

That said there is good reason to explorer further in, depending on how much the party know. The goblin for example knows the way to Cragmaw Castle, there are also prisoners to rescue.

The true difficulty comes from a large number of fairly easy encounters in a confined space where rest is somewhere between difficult and impossible.

Personally I think this is good design

It gives a party options to get in and out again, or allows them to explore. If they miss the opportunity to clear out the whole place then maybe they miss some key information (From the Goblin for example - although there are other avenues to learn this info), or maybe they return and someone else has taken charge, or the Redbrands scatter killing the prisoners on the way out (Or letting them starve to death).

What could be changed to make it more difficult

I am not a fan of scaling up or adding more enemies in situations like this, I prefer to give reason to explore further and that helps ensure player agency is still respected (IE: If they want an easy in and out, they get it).

The group that I DM for did a very similar thing to your group, and I made sure that Glasstaff had trapped the secret passage so he would be aware of anyone approaching. Using his misty step spell he escaped and alerted the Redbrands in the next room to set an ambush for the party, this led to a tense fight which was the closest the party have been to dying, and gave them massive pause for thought when exploring the remaining rooms.

If I was feeling particularly nasty I could have had Glasstaff also alert the bugbears, but I wanted them to keep out of the way for reasons.

Generally speaking, if there is an easy way through a hideout then the person in that hideout is going to be aware of it and will have taken some precautions to ensure it doesn't become a trap for them.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, if they don't do anything about the rest of the Redbrands, Halia is taking charge (as it's her plan to begin with) :) - and the players did show some interest in exploring further, especially for the prisioners. \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 15:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Was about to comment on this myself - the real difficult fight in the Redbrand Hideout isn't Iarno - it's the Bugbears (Hobgoblins? It's been awhile) in the barracks, who are likely to take over operations after the death of Iarno. Not to mention the skeletons just outside the prison cells. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Jun 20, 2023 at 19:34

Actually, I just had a TPK on this one the other weekend, and the party killed the Nothic with ease in a round and a half with no spells expended. D&D has no guarantees of having battles be won or lost in the cinematic beats our culture is used to. A few very good or bad rolls change everything. Surprise is very powerful against outnumbered enemies, which I think is fair given that players often have to work for it and pass a whole party worth of stealth rolls.

So far as particular circumstances there was also a vital difference that a party member ranged out, discovered the secret door and then botched a sneak roll and made a hasty exit. I had the Glasstaff familiar go scope the situation out, and then while the party was evacuating prisoners logic dictated that he would make preparations to defend his hideout.

Once he has his staff in hand and a chance to cast mage armor he has 13 plus his dexterity, plus one AC from the staff, plus Shield as a reaction until he runs out of charges, putting him at an AC over 20, which makes him a very hard target until he runs out of charges on the staff, which takes four rounds. The him-running-away contingency doesn't come into effect until the party gets a few rather high rolls against him. If he can make it through the first few rounds it's not hard for him to get some party members sidelined with his hold person spell. The staff isn't super premium loot for a player character but for an NPC who doesn't have multiple encounters a day it's kind of overpowered.

Given extended time to prep he both rounded up a couple bugbear goons and, more importantly, logically had to grab the damned fireball scroll from his stash; why would he not use it when he's outnumbered in his hideout? As you can imagine once his flunkies were out of the way it made a lot more sense for him to use the scroll than trying to off them all with low level magic missiles.

My party are going to regain consciousness locked up in the prisoner room awaiting interrogation, and I probably would have let them die if we weren't seven months into the campaign and hadn't had to struggle so much for times to meet up.

The adventure as written holds the party and DM's hand through surprising the guy but not through him catching wind that the party was there and having more than a moment to prepare his defenses. It puts a fireball scroll handy for him - apparently without much consideration that he might think of using it rather than leave it as party loot.

So given your opposite experience, mileage can obviously vary greatly.


The big thing here is the Surprise; as others have said, it's a very powerful mechanic, and can end fights before they begin.

You didn't do anything wrong, but if you ever find yourself running this encounter again, I would make two simple changes:

First, Iarno/Glasstaff is a Wizard, in a hideout full of thieves, goblins, bugbears, and an evil Mike Wazowsky; give him Alarm, and assume he casts it ritually on a daily basis. He is now fully aware of when someone is trespassing near his quarters.

Second: have him be in a meeting with some sort of bruiser NPC; a bugbear, an up-jumped Redbrand, etc. Someone who can take hits and be in the PCs' faces while Glasstaff wriggles his fingers or makes a break for it.

It isn't supposed to be a TOUGH fight, as-written; Iarno is a sub-boss at best, and it's expected that the PCs will triumph. But it should be at least an INTERESTING fight, and just knocking him over in a single round doesn't do that.

Similarly, if your PCs like to use Sleep and charm spells, make him a Half-Elf instead of a human. Not to "scr*w them over," but just to keep the guy in the fight for more than two turns.


I just wanted to chime in and say thanks for posting this question. It's been years since you posted it, but I just googled "Glasstaff dnd" today looking for exactly this info (including the answers).

I'm DMing for the first time so I'm certain I'm doing things wrong, but my party has also been insanely lucky. Like yours, they entered by the tunnel, except they negotiated with the Nothic for passage, offering the warm bodies of the three ruffians they encountered in area 1.

While prepping for the next session, it really seems like the Evil Mage they'll encounter - likely with surprise - won't be a major challenge.

Of course, I can't leave without trying to answer your question: It doesn't seem like you did anything wrong, simply that the gang found a path straight to the boss. The real challenges will come if/when the group enters the common room or barracks in the lower levels of the hideout.


You didn't necessarily do anything wrong. As a DM I am usually worried about providing a challenge and making sure my party uses their resources, but as a player I am always trying to use them only as a last resort and feel worried even if I'm at 60% HP. Just because you didn't think it felt challenging doesn't mean the party didn't think it felt challenging.

Completely apart from being challenging or not, as long as everyone is having fun then you're doing everything correctly.

Don't be afraid to deviate from what the books describe. Maybe some monsters from another room just happened to be coming into another room right as the party did! If things feel way too easy then throw some extra baddies in. If things are way too hard then maybe something dies or surrenders a little earlier than they should, or maybe you help point out some easy escape routes.


Your players quickly dealt with the boss of this dungeon, and it would indeed be easy to drop back out of the dungeon now but that was only one priority within the dungeon. There could be potential consequences!

If the players choose to leave the dungeon, but that leaves a good number of Redbrands around still. There is an NPC that is set up to take advantage of this exact scenario - Halia Thornton. Check out her information in the section about Phandalin Miner's Exchange. If the players take the easy route they could end up with an even bigger problem in the future; a reemergence of the Redbrands (new organization, or not) who are better prepared and keeping close tabs on the players. (However, afaik it isn't followed up on in the book - you'd have to put that plot line together yourself.)

There is also the string that is left hanging about the Dendrars who are captive in the jail section. A townsperson might need to ask about whether any of them were found to remind the players. If the players don't care, maybe the Dendrars are sold into slavery and later cross paths with the players again. Maybe one is killed in an accident and the ghost haunts that area for the players to come across, where it can cry about the adventurers who didn't save them from the Redbrands. etc.. it's a loose string you can do anything you'd like with.

As long as you didn't hand your players the tunnel entrance too easily, then I think it is meant to be this easy if they go for this path of investigation instead of charging at the enemy's door. The one thing I might've done is have the bugbears come looking if they were going for the secret door to Glasstaff, due to the sounds of battle with the Nothic. A battle-focused party is probably going to want to clear out the rest of the dungeon either way while a sneaky party might revel in the political maneuvering and investigative track this sets them up for in the future with Halia and the Redbrand conspiracy.

If your party is very combat-oriented it probably would have been more entertaining for them to go through the front door, but sometimes that kind of stuff happens.


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