I need ideas to replace Goblin Ambush and the Cragmaw Hideout!

I LOVE how this adventure start! I’m a fan of starting the adventure with an ambush and i like the little dungeon too.

My problem is: my players already played this chapter… twice…

Would you guys have ideas or amazing links (like dmguild stuff) to replace this?

It is ok to be similar, even an ambush encounter that leads to a cave too…

Thank you!!


The “Temple of the Basilisk Cult” from Arcane Library one shot is a lot of fun. It’s set in a jungle but you could reflavour a lot of that if you wished. Rewrite suggestions: Replace the stone egg in the camp with a MacGuffin - perhaps a puzzle box from Matthew Perkins’ LMOP guide. The party are at the archeological site meeting Gundren, who has discovered the puzzle box and needs escorting to Phandalin. Instead of cultists ambushing the camp, they are agents of the Black Spider - could still be goblins. They kidnap Gundren or Sildar (whichever you want at the camp) and take the item. Party needs to chase them into the forest or jungle to get it all back. They make it to the temple (could reskin as being inside a cave system) and rescue Sildar and/or the puzzle box, but discover that Gundren has been moved on to a different location. Now you can segue into the main LMOP plot with the Black Spider’s agents set up, a puzzle box mystery, and a friend kidnapped. You could take the whole adventure and strip out the basilisk elements - perhaps flavour towards spiders instead. Having written this out, it feels like you’re not using much of the adventure, but you’d actually have a great framework of encounters and set pieces to use. All you need to do is edit the theme to match your personal Phandelver setting. Hope that suggestion helps?


Thank you for this! I really appreciate your tips and the time you spent. Already downloaded the adventure and trying to adapt to what my group likes! What i'm thinking is: 1º - Maybe i will just add something to the goblin ambush, like some goblins **inside** the horses to cause a jumpscare, an escape attempt or something like that. I like the ambush, it is just one combat and maybe i can make it like they THINK they know what will happen but they don't. 2º - Like you said, using the archeological site and the Temple of the Basilisk Cult to replace the Cragmaw Hideout with goblins and bandits. I'm will try to use Klarg and Yeemik too, players remember them and i will make them meet both at different situations lol Do you have any more suggestions?


Replace the Goblins with horses. All of them. Cragmaw cave is now filled with horses. The ambush happens when the characters find Goblin corpses in the road. Then the horses ambush them.


On a more serious note, have a Hobgoblin barricade in the road. They demand a fee to pass. Gundren and Sildar's horses are tied up at a make-shift stable, along with a few other horses. Gundren and Sildar are not seen, nor their stuff. After their refusal to pay the fee, and attempting to pass anyways, (likely through the brush or woods), they were captured by the Hobgoblins, their stuff confiscated, and all of that sent to Cragmaw cave. At the cave, the Goblins are much more orderly and alert. The Bugbear is replace with a no-nonsense Hobgoblin who likes to keep things running like a well oiled machine.


Have a pit trap by the entrance, and maybe where the goblins normally hide you can have deycoy dummy’s to draw your players into the trap. And if they don’t get out the trap quickly the first water releases and fills the pit dealing 1d6-1d8 bludgeoning dmg but will make it easier for them to get out as it fills the pit.


Change the ambush stealing ideas from this video (starting around 5:20): https://youtu.be/T94SVug8jms?si=mckQLefqQ15-pCVh&t=320 I would start with an intro mission to get players to level 2 and get them all healing potions, because this ambush is even deadlier than what’s in the book. The intro mission should involve Gundren as a way to connect him to the players even more.


There is a pre-adventure module called 'The Tomb of the Dwarven King' available through the DMs Guild which can be used as a party introduction to Gundren. I have used it a couple of times as a side quest when they are heading to the Phandalin. Gundren heads out to take care of something important and then does not return at the specified time. One of the key plot points is having Gundren kidnapped, so if you do away with the goblin ambush, you will need to substitute something in place of that encounter.


Matt Colville's Delian Tomb could work. I believe someone made a version that's a prelude to LMoP. I wanna say it's called "Loss of Innocence" or something. Maybe Gnomengarde? They were going there for provisions but the gnomes have gone insane and are keeping Sildar hostage? He'll tell you Gundren got away, but then in Phandalin they tell you he never showed up? Follow the path and realize Gundren was kidnapped by Goblins, or one of the town kids saw it. Maybe he was briefly taken to the Redbrand hideout, which could lead to Cragmaw Castle.


("Sacrifice of Innocence" for anyone looking ☺️)


That's the one!


I have had an envoy from Cragmaw’s castle show up when we played with L3 party of 4. The players had the opportunity to learn of the envoy by capturing a goblin alive. The envoy consists of a hobgoblin and 2 goblins. They are to tasked with delivering Sildar to King Grol. Killing the envoy reduces the Cragmaw numbers in the castle and obviously any of these goblins can provide the location of the castle.


I love using Dyson Logos as inspiration. If you don't like the art style remake it in Dungeon Draft. Here's a great first map: [https://dysonlogos.blog/2022/03/14/the-goblin-warrens-at-fort-redshield/](https://dysonlogos.blog/2022/03/14/the-goblin-warrens-at-fort-redshield/) * It's a cool and unexpected location they won't have seen * it has some more room to spread out your new opener - something that adds more about the Black Spider. I think we can all agree that's an 'area of improvement' in the OG module. * Give yourself a chance to experiment with some homebrew! What's the interior conflict in the dungeon? I like the idea of "Cragmaws vs. Redbrands" which mirrors the original but emphasizes the real big bad - the Black Spider. Next step is a new version of the ambush. Let's say instead of finding a dead horse they find a busted up bridge and a sign saying: "bridge is out, please go around the ford by the big old castle" but written **very** poorly; 'bridge' is crossed out like three times and still spelled wrong. Players should think "huh... so goblins". And they're... *absolutely* *RIGHT*!!! We're kinda meta-gaming here, but since the players know the ambush that normally exists in LMoP, we can play with their expectations a bit. Now they can prepare for an ambush. Here's pretty battle map [https://www.deviantart.com/sirinkman/art/A-random-encounter-Little-Ford-735141182?src=MC\_deviation\_stack](https://www.deviantart.com/sirinkman/art/A-random-encounter-Little-Ford-735141182?src=MC_deviation_stack) that also has some elevation and hiding spots - cool! Now switch the mobs up on them so it's not just goblins. Maybe add a Giant Wolf Spider instead of a goblin in the ambush, or some Redbrands. Try to emphasize the Black Spider plot from the outset. Level them up asap - level one gets tired and deadly pretty fast. And have fun!


I recently stumbled across a preview for an upcoming release by Matt Colville which includes a goblin-themed dungeon/lair designed for lvl 2 PCs (I think) with interesting stat blocks and easily enough detail to run. Personally, I feel like it could serve as a decent replacement for both goblin ambush and cragmaw hideout. The website below which itself also contains a link to the free preview: https://www.backerkit.com/c/mcdm-productions/where-evil-lives-the-mcdm-book-of-boss-battles


I like the plot structure so I typically replace it with other CR equivalent monsters. Ex Kobolds serving a young Faerie Dragon; Skeletons and an Cr 1 Imp. Wolves and a CR 1 Fey. Things of that nature. The dungeon dive is great cuz it can be reflavored fairly easily. Make it a dragon wyrmling’s new lair. Maybe add some human guards such as cult of the dragon. Or it can be an old graveyeard with a necromancer as the “Klargg”. The Water wave becomes a rush of lava, a hallway of traps or something like that. And the big boss always has a secret getaway.


Maybe goblins on patrol. Goblins blockading the road - demand a tax. Road hazard, PC's need to spend night on road, goblins attack. "The fog descends .." a goblin magic user of some sort uses a spell to shroud the party. PC's encounter a goblin hazing ritual, "new to the horde" kinda thing, Goblin is getting a brand on his rump. Maybe the PC's meet the horse owners before they were killed off by the goblins, and the PCs then get ambushed by a larger party of Goblins. PC's encounter another wagon party and they both get mugged. Bigger goblin force. PC's hopefully survive, other merc group does not, or is seriously injured, and the PC's need to decide what to do w/ the wagon they were protecting. Basically - to git the "theme", keep the adventure Goblin-esque.


I ran it 3 times and my partner was in the party all 3 times. I flipped it. Set it up so that the party could actually ambush the goblins. They came up on the goblins sifting through the horses and goods. They captured them and basically did a prison exchange for Sildar.