We’ve now finished three sessions with the D&D Starter Set. We simply have not gotten that far into Lost Mines of Phandelver because: 1) we’re slow; and, 2) we started with a little intro adventure. That said, it has been working for us so far. The rules feel simple and non-intrusive. There is a nice level of abstraction which accomplishes this and allows space for interpreting and narrating the results of dice clattering about the table. I know it is only three sessions but it strikes me as a solid D&D style game.
In our last session, there was some depressing closure brought to the events that happened at Crellar’s Trading Post, the characters gelled as a party, and headed on their way towards Phandalin. They also experienced their first combat as a party (the only other fight so far was one-on-one between one PC and a monster). The combat did illustrate that the amount of damage dealt by even relatively weak monsters (i.e., goblins) can be sufficient to take down 1st level characters.
In fact, Baren, the party’s cleric, was taken down and then, in some subsequent exploration, Caelynn also suffered enough damage to fall into the cool embrace of unconsciousness (although neither were actually killed). We left the party soon after Baren regained consciousness and Caelynn was still unconscious (and the party had no magical healing available). The party was faced with a difficult decision…to push on as they had some very compelling reasons to do so (spoiler so below the break)…or to rest and recover.
There are potential spoilers below the break for the Starter Set adventure, Lost Mine of Phandelver. This write-up is from yours truly. My GM comments, as typical, are in [brackets and italics].