This was on the heels of Portal. Players had just enough time to bring 1-2 PCs to 1st level. They also decided to grab a couple seasoned veterans before heading out (a good idea since this module is designed for 2nd level PCs).
Buckers McMoney: Warrior/1
Groot the Pious: Cleric/3
"We made it back alive! We're all mighty heroes now!" No sooner do the former blue-collar workers make it back to their quaint little village and proverbially Level Up than word comes in that the nearby forest, Tamarack Weald, is infested with a danger that has started infecting the outlying areas. Two night ago, Orb Weavers made it as far as Brandy Hollow, a halfling thorp beyond the northwest treeline, and made off with sheep and young Olo Nudd. Representatives from Brandy Hollow have traveled to the primarily-human village to ask for assistance, and offer a hefty reward - 100 GP - for the safe return of their shepherd boy, Olo. With little medieval dollar signs in their eyes, the fledglings grab a couple local friends (Malik and Groot) and make haste toward the Tamarack Weald to hunt some spiders.
Once inside the forest, a jaunt down the main path takes them into a small clearing, across which is woven a large circular web (about 20 ft in diameter). A spider just over a foot long is seen scurrying to the top of the web. As the party tries to determine which tactic to use, it drops into their midst (totally missing its attempted leap onto Steig). A second Weaver, similar in size, joins in shortly, this time succeeding in an aerial attack. Fairas tries out her new Flaming Hands specialty, and a ton of worms manifest underfoot, making the fairly brief combat quite messy. Knowing they're after a halfling, they're hesitant about cutting down the cocooned lumps in the midst of the web, but soon realize they're simply desiccated remains of small animals.
The obstructing web is cut through and the continue down the path. Everyone is now keeping an eye out for further attacks from above, and the fine silvery cord strung between the treetops above the path is easily spotted. The party comes to a halt, does a thorough search, and finds a camouflaged trap door -- not a trapdoor spider, mind you, but a trap door. Wooden. Hinged. Leading into the ground. Malik and Carl determine that the door itself is not further trapped. When opened, the door swings downward as expected, and they see thick webbing strung like a net about 10 feet down. Everyone decides to bypass it, because "spiders don't burrow" and it didn't look like their halfling target was in the web.
They continue until a large clearing - well, a boggy clearing, if that's a clearing at all. There are 6 pathways radiating outward, and they [unknowingly] choose the shortest way around to the direct path. They skirt between the edges of the bog and treeline to the right and get ambushed by an Orb Weaver about 3 feet in length (this netted a few squeamish shudders around the table). While there is a little damage inflicted, everyone saves vs. the poison from the bites. Coming to the east edge, a wide path becomes visible. A series of webs about 12 feet above are strung along like the entrance like a banner. The word "FALTCHEH" is woven into it ("Great, we get to fight Charlotte now?"), and Fairas recognizes the Elven word in the silk, "Welcome." In defiance, she thrusts her Flaming Hands upward....and the reinforced foliage goes up with the webbing. *WHOOSH* - there's a blast of damage to the entire party, and the worms go up like cheap firework toys. ("Poor worms!")
All are now on guard as they wind their way uneventfully along the next path for ten minutes or so, searching high and low as they go. As the path widens once more, the eight-foot section of ground covered in silken lines is easily discovered and - remembering last time - destroyed with fire sent via flaming arrow before entering the clearing that turns out to be a dead end [no pun intended]. The Stygian Orb Weaver Queen waits for them in the center of her 30-foot web. The bloating, pulsating abdomen and shifting green rorschach-like markings [I do love that description!] take everyone aback for a moment. Fairas recalls the welcome message and comes to the conclusion that the Weaver Queen must be intelligent. Half the group thought Fairas should try to talk to her in Elven and ask for the boy, but they couldn't come to a decision, so Gareck steps in and tries to throw a Choking Cloud toward the web. And fails. A dazzling effect similar to Color Spray is sent in return, which blinds Fairas and Grimhelm. Buckers, Steig, and Groot rush in to close combat. Malik and Carl work on scaling the webbing, getting in a flanked attack or two. Grimhelm recovers first and joins in. Poor Fairas is out of commission. The Queen attempts to escape but is kept in range by the sneaky thieves until she takes enough damage to cause her to fall from the web, where she is quickly dispatched.
Carl heads for one of the silk-wrapped form in the web that looks body-shaped - and finds a dead humanoid with lizard features. Malik tries to scuttle over to another cocoon, loses his balance, and saves himself by thrusting his dagger out to gain purchase - and sadly discovers that not all of the Queen's captures are dead yet. With the warriors standing below to catch the findings, Malik uncovers three dwarves, one of whom is immediately healed by the team of clerics standing by, and Carl rescues Olo, the halfling boy.
Behind the giant web is a trove of sorts with many sacs hanging from the trees. Malik finds one with a small wooden chest of currency and a large gem. His innocent whistling certainly rouses suspicion within the rest of the party. Carl plunges into another, finding quite a haul. Fairas, feeling she needed a bit of closure, joins the thieves behind the web, and finds a decayed corpse of an Elf of obvious stature, judging from the armor and sword he'd carried. The word "Morclaiv" is engraved upon the blade, which translates to "might goblin slayer". This leaves her with quite a few questions: Who is this Elf? What brought him here? How did he come to die here, after apparently doing so well against goblins? Why did the web contain the Elven greeting? Did the Orb Weavers speak/understand the Elven language?
After haggling over the dwarves' pipe-leaf stash the Orb Weavers had taken, the troupe gladly escorts the four rescued short 'uns back to the village, retracing their steps around the bog and making sure that no new webs have formed. Pretty smart for people who'd just been farmers a couple days ago.
"The Treacherous Cobtrabs", Appendix N Adventures / Brave Halfling Publishing
Buckers McMoney: +9 XP
Gareck: +9 XP
Steig: +9 XP
Grimhelm: +9 XP
Malik: +9 XP, -1 Luck
Carl: +9 XP
Fairas: +9 XP, +1 Luck
Groot the Pious: +9 XP
LOOT: 114 SP / 153 GP (includes reward) / 25 CP / 54 EP / copper arm band (20 GP) / 2 casks of pipe-leaf (70 GP) / Dwarven map / 1 fiery gem (200 GP) / sky blue silk cloth / Elven chain mail / Morclaiv (Elven longsword)