My party wanted to try a campaign book so we got the Lost Mine of Phandelver.

Problem is they are bloodthirsty idiots and all they care about is killing goblins for xp. This lead to them letting Sildar die so they could make sure no goblins escaped.

At this point they have just had the redbrand encounter in town.

At first I though "oh well they screwed themselves". Sildar is dead, they don't get the reward for rescuing him but the more I read the more he seems to appear in the story. It appears that he is a big part of the campaign and a lot of material is left out without him present.

Seems silly to me that so much of the book is skipped because of an early decision.

Basically I don't know if I should just accept I'm only getting 2/3 of a campaign or if everything he would have done should be shifted to another NPC. If I do this though it makes his death meaningless.

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    \$\begingroup\$ As an aside, did you let them know that rescuing prisoners is also worth XP? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 5, 2017 at 9:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GreenstoneWalker when they came across the horses they eldritch blasted them. They very much think its WOW and see everything as its XP/GP vlaue. \$\endgroup\$
    – Skeith
    Feb 6, 2017 at 15:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Skeith on that note, How do I get my PCs to not be a bunch of murderous cretins? \$\endgroup\$
    – daze413
    Feb 7, 2017 at 3:47

3 Answers 3


Failure is an option

A mistake that many people make is thinking there are only 2 end states for an adventure: the party wins or the party dies. In fact, there are a multitude of outcomes and some of them represent failure and failure has consequences.

Having Sildar die makes things much harder for the players in subsequent stages of the campaign. So, the way you play this out is: it makes it much harder for the players.

From memory, his absence doesn't make it impossible for the players to proceed, it just closes one avenue of information and support: the players will have to pursue other avenues or go without.

Further, the Lord's Alliance (I think) will send a new agent who will not trust the party and ostentatiously not give them quests, rewards or information and make it really clear that this is because they don't trust the party who let Sildar die.

RPGs are different from video games - you don't get to go back to your last save and try again.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree but Sildar isn't simply one source of information, he is responsible for at least 3 sidequests, the ability to join a faction, several hundred GP. \$\endgroup\$
    – Skeith
    Feb 5, 2017 at 0:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ And so, they have to find out the side quests another way or not do them, they can't join his faction and the don't get the money - failure has consequences \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Feb 5, 2017 at 0:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this could be improved by pointing out how the players could be made aware of the missed opportunities. They need to feel a Sildar-shaped hole in the world, or they won't know they missed anything outside the immediate quest reward. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 5, 2017 at 1:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ This happens. Real world, friendly Afghan or Bosnian leaders have buried dozens of friends who got fragged in crossfires. Those who still want progress, and realize this happens in war zones. Likewise the NPCs must be genre-savvy to living in an inherently violent place, and it's not their first rodeo. They've lost good people before. They know about the fog of war and friendly fire. The objectives still need doing. Sildar's loss is felt but his dream lives. For Sildar! \$\endgroup\$ Feb 5, 2017 at 20:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Skeith could you remind me, what three sidequests Sildar was responsible for (aside from the "Save Sildar Hallwinter" quest)? Tresendar Manor and Cragmaw Castle are not sidequests, but parts of the main story. \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Feb 6, 2017 at 7:55

Let the party know the cost of failure

The first thing to do is to let the party know that there are consequences for their actions, beyond experience points for kills. If they simply don’t get the money and side-quests that Sildar might have provided, they won’t even know what they missed out on.

Go ahead and withhold the rewards, and have another NPC let the characters know that Sildar had access to considerable reward money — and useful information — which is now unavailable.

Make sure the party knows this is not a video game

Players these days sometimes treat NPC’s like they might in a video game. They show no concern for the NPC’s survival, because they assume a character important to the plot cannot die. Or they take an item from the NPC and don’t bother completing their quest in a timely manner.

You can inform the players, in game or out, that your NPC’s won’t stand for being treated like video game automatons. A Phandalin villager (maybe Sister Garaele) might chide the PC’s, “You treated Sildar like he wasn’t even a real person, like he was just there to provide a colorful detail to your big adventure. I don’t know what kind of game you think you are playing.”

Back that up with real consequences. One idea based on the literature is:

Linene refuses to sell the party weapons because she believes they are bloodthirsty mercenaries, no better than the Redbrands. To earn Linene’s trust, the party must “go the extra mile” — perhaps by retrieving Mirna’s jewelry from Thundertree.

The show must go on

On the other hand, there’s no need to write out parts of the adventure because things didn’t go as planned. Just find other NPC’s to move the story along. Here’s one an example how:

One party I ran through Phandelver took no interest in the dwarven brothers, and kept killing the bad guys without interrogating any. They dove into the side quests, but took no interest in the main quest. Knowing my audience, I made the necromancer at Old Owl Well a beautiful “Goth” woman with a sob story about learning necromancy at a school for orphans. Sure enough, they did not kill her, and invited her to join the party. I added to her backstory that she was seeking the Forge of Spells, and the party was “back on track.”

Sandbox vs. Prepared Adventures

If you were playing your own sandbox adventure, you might consider “skipping” part of the adventure, letting the bad guys win, and figuring out where your campaign goes from there.

But you seem concerned with getting your value out of the adventure you purchased. There’s nothing wrong with that. Especially if you are a new DM, this introductory module gives you a good framework and guidance, and saves you some work.

You just want to make sure you stop short of railroading your party into an adventure they don’t want.


It's a game and they're having fun playing so let them. It's a store bought module so if they skip or miss a third is that a big deal?

It doesn't matter if you replace him or not. To bloodthirsty idiots he's only there for exposition and plot advancement. They won't care about missed side plots and extra gold because that's an infinite resource you can buy or download.

Their only limit is how much time they actually play the game IRL.


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