Maze Rats – The Spider Pit 2

#TheSpiderPit – part 8 – *guards*

The adventurers climb up north along the cliff, until, beyond the hill that is called the “dead giant”, Zora advises that they go back into the wood to find and follow the tracks again, lest they lose them. She leads the way, with the group nervously eyeing the treetops for threats.

The tracks are still there, and clear as ever, despite having joined the old road now, no longer running through the underbrush. They follow the tracks for a couple hours, passing the old heroe’s grave without incident.

It is past noon and nearing the top of the cliff, when the tracks finally veer off the road and terminate in a thick tangle of bushes. Here the group finds a rickety cart with steel-banded wheels and a good-sized cage on top — empty. The cage is big enough for six or seven adult humans.

Zora reads the ground: “This has been five humans… all women, or young ‘uns, or leastways city folk. All barefoot and there wun’t any strugglin’ no more. There is a bit of blood, so mebbe one was wounded a bit. They went in one neat row, mebbe bound together with a chain or a cord. There was also all five goblins, and one more who was boss, he went in front. Easterly.” She rubs her chin. “They was pushing and pulling that cart by themselves, no animal. Ah had missed that part earliah. Shame on me.”

The group follows the way the goblins took, and after another half hour or less there is a clearing, and at the southern bend of the clearing there is a mighty hollow tree with a spaceous opening. This is where the tracks are going – and there are two goblins with spears and helmets in front of the hollow tree. One of them is sitting and resting, with his back to the bark. The other one is leaning on his spear, standing three or four steps in front of the tree.

“Uuh, I don’t like the look of that”, says Zora. “This is probbly some cave down there under that tree. This is my out. Me job is done.”

Nobody argues this time.

Uko eyes the goblins. “They are from the red claw tribe”, he says, grimacing. “They don’t wash.”

Reinhold curses. “This would, no doubt, have been a great range for our brave Mortimer. He was without peer with his trusty longbow.”
Harmony raises an eyebrow. “I can take that shot”, she snaps, a bit too loud.
“Shhhh! Quiet!” reminds Ursula, watching the goblins.

Oswald draws his sword. “Let’s not hide here like cowards. Let’s go cut them to ribbons.”

Basil hefts his warhammer and looks to Phoebe.

She inspects the team members and their equipment, one by one. Bow, crossbow, slingshot, arms, even the spell scrolls.

“We need a strategy.”

  • Shoot the guards
  • Rush the guards
  • Use magicks
  • Trick the guards (how?)
  • Bribe the guards

Character stats:

#TheSpiderPit – part 9 – *enter the dungeon*

With Zora gone, the adventurers quickly discuss their options. Finally they arrive at a decision: Harmony and Uko will aim at the unsuspecting guards and shoot at a signal. Should they miss, Phoebe has the scroll “Thorn Beam” ready to pick off any survivors. Oswald, Reinhold, and Basil sneak closer to spring at the enemy with bare blades, should both of the initial attacks fail.

Uko lines up his crossbow to center on the power-napper, Harmony nocks an arrow to aim at the standing guard.

The goblins are clueless, until the arrows find their marks. Harmony’s man never knows what hit him: An arrow to the face, he goes down like a sack of potatoes and the spear drops from his nerveless fingers. Uko hits his target in the chest, but the shocked guard jumps up with a cry of pain, stares at the bolt jutting from his body and tries to determine where it came from, then he reaches toward the tree.

Phoebe reads from the scroll. The arcane words tumble from her tongue, vibrate in the air and the scroll fizzles out, but she is able to hold her concentration, and from her arms a sharply focused beam streams forth to hit the poor wretch right in the gut. He falls with a gasp, clawing at the air, and dies in agony, before he comes to rest as a twisted heap of bones and meat. Phoebe directs the rest of the beam at the other guard, just to be sure. The body twitches, but otherwise remains still.

As the magic dissipates, a metallic tang stays in Phoebe’s mouth, even though she spits to the ground several times to get rid of it. She shudders: Magic! The force that was not meant for mortals.

Slowly the team gathers at the fallen goblins. Both darts remain unbroken, and the shooters cut the arrows from their enemies to clean them and put them back with their other shots. One of the goblins owns three silver pieces, the other a pair of scissors. Both carry spears and daggers. One of them has a pair of good shoes that fit Uko. Uko and Phoebe take the spears. Harmony pockets the money, Ursula the scissors. Oswald and Basil take a dagger each. Reinhold discovers what the goblin reached for: a string that goes down into the hollow tree, presumably a mechanism to raise alarm. He ties it loose and looks down into the tree, where a mess of roots dangles into the black depth. It appears to be used like a natural rope ladder, and often, judging by the wear and tear.

“Once more, our hero is first into the breach, while his comrades bicker about worldly possessions!” Reinhold proclaims with a sigh, then he takes point to climb down the roots. The others are quick to follow.

It is not far to go – just eight feet below ground a passage gently slopes down to end in an underground room. It looks like a natural cave, smoothed over and extended by conscious miners. The floor is made of stone squares. All is quiet.

The adventurers look southwards at a strong stone door with a carved monster visage.

At their left, eastwards, the string leads along the ceiling into a dark, door-shaped passage leading into pitch black.
At their right, westwards, there is a similar passage, although with light trickling through. A careful look shows, at the end of the surprisingly well-constructed passage, a dimly lit room with some kind of stone fountain. The light seems to be coming from farther west still.

Decisions, decisions!

  • Follow the string to the east
  • Check out the fountain room
  • Investigate the stone door

#TheSpiderPit – part 10 – *the fountain*

The group walks through the passage and down four dark stone steps to enter a long, rectangular room with a whiff of fresh air and a ceiling that gets narrower at progressing angles. It may be something like an old banquet hall, with a single stone fountain in it’s center. The room looks old and sordid, but it is obvious that it has been beautiful once. The floor is made of marble in different colors, forming intricate patterns in grey, black, white and red along the whole length of the room. A thick layer of dust has settled everywhere in here, but it seems to be routinely disturbed along a path that follows more or less the northern wall. Nobody seems to walk along the southern wall.

On all the walls there are faded murals that depict some armed people in different situations.

On top of the fountain there is a stone statue that seems to have been decapitated. The fountains glugs gently – it seems to be still functional despite the undisturbed dust on it’s rim.

Daylight streams into the hall from the west. The light comes in from the far side west, where the room ends in a broken wall, with a jagged hole wide enough for two men walking upright and abreast. The hole is guarded by one more decapitated warrior statue on the left, and in theory by a second decapitated statue, which is, in practice, lying broken on the floor close to the far corner to the north.

  • Return to the first room
  • Look closer at the fountain
  • Look closer at the murals
  • Check out the statues far back

#TheSpiderPit – part 11 – *Mu*

Harmony steps closer to the wall and traces the murals with her finger. Uko looks at them sullenly.
“What is this?” asks Reinhold, “You two seem to know the significance of this.”

“This is the story of Mu,” says Harmony, pointing at the picture of a tall elf lounging in a chair carried by a dozen goblins with white collars, “from his humble beginnings to his coronation…” she indicates the same tall figure sitting on a throne of living trees,“…. and over there where the big hole in the wall is, there should be a depiction of his funeral pyre. Back long before the Age of the Fall, he united all the holds and built the Silver Empire. He was the greatest hero of elvenkind.”
“You mean the most vile mass murderer of all times,” says Uko.
“Well, that too,” she agrees. “Here in this part of the mural…. The one that has been smeared with what looks… what are feces…. Goblin feces. You would see his greatest victory here, the utter destruction of the dungeon city of Tar-rak, the sundering of the goblin lords.” She smiles. “But it appears the goblins of the Red Claw tribe don’t liked that part.”
“Nobody likes that part,” Uko grunts. “The elves used to bind their slaves with rings of cold iron.”

“And they seem to have used them for target practice,” Ursula observes, as she points to the southern wall, where elves drink wine and fire bows at collared goblins who are bound to posts.

They see an elven army slaying a host of large monsters, while goblin slaves carry their weapons and drinks for them. Mu seems to have a whole selection of instruments of death, with a dozen slaves bearing his sword and hammer on several occasions. They even carry his weapons in little boats as he slays a sea monster with a lance.

Harmony shrugs. “Well, this is all long past. Mu lived long before you humans even crawled out of the slime.”
“And died,” Uko adds with a savage grin, showing his tusks.
“And died,” she agrees.
“Well, in the end the goblins won, didn’t they?” asks Oswald with a shrug. “After all, all that’s left of that Empire is ruins.”

Uko and Harmony exchange a crooked smile.

“Is this … the Bay of Stones?” asks Reinhold.

It is true – in the center of the mural there is a stylized map that depicts the Bay and the place where Woodbridge now lies. It seems that there was a larger elven settlement here than the ruins let on.
“Then this here must be where we are!” Phoebe adds.
There is a rectangular space – about where this room should be on a map. Right below it there is a depiction of the hero Mu and another elf holding hands. South of the room there is a river that is flowing from a large pool straight through the elven city and into the Bay of Stones – where the Tower of Music should stand. There is no Tower of Music on the map though. However, in the large pool there is a picture of dragon-like creature without wings. A couple of elves seem to walk down a flight of stairs carrying bundles that they throw into the pool.
“That must be the Cursed Creek! It looks bigger though. And what is in those…offerings?” asks Reinhold. “And why does Mu not fight this beast?”
Neither Harmony nor Uko know.

The Mural:

Suddenly there are sounds from the first room. A heavy grinding, and muffled voices. The sound of metal against stone. Someone’s coming!

*What do the adventurers do?*

  • Prepare for battle
  • Attack them in the passage
  • Try to hide
  • Escape through the hole far back
  • Something else (comment!)

#TheSpiderPit – part 12 – *Patrol*

With someone approaching, the party needs a quick decision. With the obvious choices being battle, running out the far side of the room, or hiding here, all have their drawbacks.

Phoebe settles the matter by reacting first. She runs right beside the entrance and presses herself into the badly lit corner, covering her outline with the shield. Harmony and Uko quickly join her and cover behind their shields at her feet. Ursula takes the opposite side, gliding into the corner like a snake. Basil looks unconvinced. But apart from the fountain and the steps there is not much to hide behind. So he just lies down along the wall immediately to the left hand from the door. Reinhold and Oswald loosen their weapons in the sheaths and snuggle up close to Ursula.

It looks ridiculous for someone who knows what to look for, and it won’t hold up to any kind of scrutiny – but an unsuspecting person may just be fooled for a moment.

It is three goblins who enter, one after the next. They are all lightly armored and carry ugly swords or axes. Despite having advantage on account of knowing the place, they are so deeply engrossed in a conversation that they completely fail to notice the enemies stacked tightly in the corners. Discussing something in the Red Claw battle tongue, they don’t look around much and just follow their usual path along the north wall, walking past the fountain and towards the big gap in the back wall.

The adventuring party…

  • …watches them go, breath held
  • …attacks!
  • …hails the goblins
  • …quickly sneaks back into room 1

#TheSpiderPit – part 13 – *Single File*

Perfectly still like the headless statues, the adventurers watch the patrol go. The goblins are clearly oblivious to the seven sets of eyes that follow their every move as they give the fountain a berth without even looking. They are deep in discussion; one of them seems to have a problem, and the others listen to his lament, providing some small input from time to time. They seem to expect no surprises, no encounter, nothing special on this patrol tour.

Reaching the end of the hall, they do something strange. They do not simply walk out through the big gap in the wall. Instead, they get into single file and walk out carefully, very close to the right side of the gap, one after another, right through the place where the fallen statue would normally stand.

They walk out and disappear into the still bright daylight outside.
Will they return? If so, they will surely once more go that same path. That means it would be even easier than now to avoid them. But maybe they won’t come back?

  • Hide again, in the opposite corner
  • Follow the patrol outside
  • Test the floor they avoided
  • Leave towards room 1
  • Investigate the fountain

#TheSpiderPit – part 14 – *Investigations*

The adventurers have no idea how much time they have, and they are interested in several things, so they act quickly. Phoebe, Reinhold, and Oswald step up to the stone fountain in the center of the room to see what this structure is about.

Ursula, Harmony, and Uko step forward to look at the floor the goblins avoided.

Basil stays on lookout.

*The fountain*

Obviously the goblins don’t use this fountain – the dust surrounding it gives testament to that.

There are two pools, a larger one below, a smaller one above. On top of it, there is a small stone statue of an elf in elaborate armor, but without a head. Apparently, the goblins have decapitated all elf statues when they smeared their feces on the historic elven mural.

As the humans step on the dais they see inside the lower pool. It is filled with a perfectly clear liquid, presumably water. Given how old this fountain is, and the dust surrounding it, it seems odd that the water is so clean. Inside the pool another oddity awaits: Submerged in the water lies a goblin skull, but, strangely, a goblin skull with three eye sockets and an elongated lower jaw. In life, this guy must have looked quite hideous.

The water looks fresh and cool, though.

*The floor*

As Ursula, Harmony, and Uko step closer to the gap in the wall, fresh air blows into their faces – seashore-air. They can see that outside of the room there is a cave that is widening to show a bit of the sky. Of the goblin group, there is no sign. The three adventurers do not have a ten foot pole, but Uko has a spear. He taps at the floor without effect. He pushes stronger. Uko leans on the spear, as a large section of the flagstones drops away to reveal a dark shaft into the deep. Surprised, Uko stumbles, but Harmony grabs his belt and pulls him back from the brink.
“Dammit!” he gasps, then pats her shoulder. “Thanks, Harm. That looks deep.”

It really does.

_First decision: The fountain. (Second decision to follow tomorrow)_

  • Drink the fresh water
  • Fill a waterskin with it
  • Take the goblin skull
  • Other idea — Comment

_Second decision: The trap._

This is the decision for Ursula, Harmony, and Uko.

( _Here is the situation and the first decision, for Phoebe, Oswald, and Reinhold:_ )

  • Throw something in
  • Climb down
  • Close up and hide
  • Close up and prepare ambush

Revealing Aura: The skull makes the thoughts people in the area have about each other audible to them.

#TheSpiderPit – part 15 – *The skull*

Harmony takes a torch from Basil and drops it into the shaft. The light drops a good thirty feet down and hits bottom in a nest of vicious spikes pointing up. A number of bugs scuttle away from the fire to seek cover in the dark. For a moment there is also the hint of some larger shadow, but it hides too quickly to make out details.

As the torch burns, the adventurers make out scattered bones and equipment among the spikes, picked clean of everything even remotely digestible. Not many skulls … about four or five. To the left, where the bigger shadow fled, there seems to be an opening that leads away south.

With as shudder, they close up the trap, working together on both sides of it. The mechanism must have a counterweight, it swings shut relatively effortless.

“Let’s use that for an ambush of these guards”, says Uko. They quickly devise a plan and take up position at the wall. Ursula peers around the corner. “I can see their helmets. They are coming back here.”

Meanwhile, at the fountain, Reinhold feels the sudden compulsion to try and take a bath in the fountain … until Oswald uses the dagger to lift the strange goblin skull out of the pool and lifts it up so the liquid drips off. At the precise moment when the skull is lifted out, a shimmering sphere builds up around the three of them, and Reinhold can clearly hear Phoebe saying: “He is an insufferable idiot, but Morane told me he was hung like a horse. I sure would like to know if that’s true.” But she doesn’t really speak. Neither does Oswald, but Reinhold can clearly hear him: “Reinhold is such a tool. I’d start my own gang with Ursula and maybe with Harmony – but I gave my word to stay with him, so I’ve got no other choice.”

Oswald freezes, as he hears Phoebe say “He is just some nobody, a mercenary like 1000 others”, while Reinhold says “He can fight, but he has no original ideas. I wonder if we really need him.”

Phoebe hears Oswald say: “She’s not bad. Not bad at all.” Reinhold says “I’d love to know how her sweet mouth tastes. Too bad her breasts are so small.”

They all recoil in shock, and the skull drops back into the liquid. The bubble collapses.

The three of them exchange wild glances. Reinhold blinks rapidly. “What foul… witchcraft… is this?” Oswald gasps: “It is a curse. It tries to do something with us!”

Phoebe avoids Reinhold’s eyes. “Let’s try again.”

Oswald once more lifts the skull, the shimmering sphere reappears, and they all hear each other say, in slightly different phrasing: “I hope they didn’t hear anything personal from me. I hope they didn’t hear anything important!”

While they think about possible uses for the skull, Oswald and Phoebe hear Reinhold saying: “This skull would be worth hundreds to the Count. I must take it for me alone.”
The others stare at him, and he turns beet-red.

His voice can be heard: “Okay, I can tell them that we split the money evenly. Maybe there will be an opportunity to trick them later.”

Oswald can be heard thinking: “I wonder why I ever followed this dumb manchild.”

  • Should they take the skull with them?
  • Should they smash it?
  • Should they put it back?

#TheSpiderPit – part 16 – *The ambush*

“Vile sorcery!”

Oswald lifts the mutated headbone to smash it against the fountain basin.

“Stop!” orders Phoebe, while her thought voice says: “He has the right idea. But maybe we can use this cursed thing.”

“Oh, please do not destroy this valuable item!” pleads Reinhold at the same time, while his thought voice says: “Dumb peasent, do you not recognize the value of this item?”

Oswald shoots Reinhold a look that does not need translation, and hands the skull to Phoebe. She instinctively shies away from it. “Whoa, I don’t touch this! Let us give it to Reinhold for safekeeping.” Her thoughts say: “He wants to steal it. But if he tries to trick us, we can drown the bastard in this fountain. And as long as he has this skull, we will always know what he thinks.”

Oswald swings the skull to Reinhold, thinking aloud: “I hope the sorcery poisons you.”

Reinhold looks at his team-mate angrily, but he takes the skull and carefully puts it into his backback. He thinks audibly: “Fools. I’ll sell this for a pretty penny and you will never prevent it. I don’t care if you leave my warband. Ursula is worth you and Mortimer twice over.”

As Oswald turns and leaves with balled fists, the shimmering sphere remains a bubble of truth around Reinhold’s backpack.

“Stop fiddling around and come here!” hisses Ursula. The others hide at the western wall, as the goblin’s voices drift inside through the hole.

“You stay away from the rest of us!” Phoebe tells Reinhold. “If this damned head gets among our teams, there will be no end to it’s talk! We will end up killing each other.”

“But what shall I do?” he asks, helplessly. The skull is ominously silent this time.

“Just hide here behind the fountain!”

Phoebe runs over to the others, and in the nick of time, because the goblins already appear at the entrance.

Just as before, they get into single file and shuffle inside. But then one of them hesitates, as he looks at the trap. Apparently he notices that the dust is disturbed. He takes a closer look and starts saying something, but the adventurers don’t wait for it. As one they attack, and the first goblin jumps back in surprise, stumbling onto the trap. It swings open, and the shocked guard disappears into the darkness with a desperate shriek.

The second goblin draws his sword to defend against the humans.

Phoebe and Uko both stab forward with their spears, and thanks to their longer reach, they both skewer him. He gurgles, his eyes roll back, and the sword drops from his hand to tumble down into the abyss.

Goblin number three cries out in terror, turns tail and runs away.

“Dammit! Get him, Harm!” shouts Phoebe.

Harmony draws an arrow to her ear, aims and lets fly. The shot pierces the goblin’s back, but he runs on to disappear out of sight.

Cursing, Phoebe and Uko pull the dead goblin into the room and wrench their weapons free from his gut. Ursula, Basil, and Oswald carefully go outside, always wary of the dark opening in the floor. Once outside, they run after the goblin. Harmony follows them.

Should Phoebe and Uko

  • follow the others to hunt the goblin
  • loot the body

#TheSpiderPit – part 17 – *Loot*

Phoebe and Uko pat down their fallen foe. He has a shoulder bag, and as Phoebe opens it, she flinches as she looks into yet another skull. She groans. “What is it with these goblins and skulls?”

Uko barks a laugh. “I’m different. I don’t give a rat’s ass for old bones. But I like this!” and he holds up a big, finely carved silver button.

“That’s it? A skull and a button?”

He shrugs and pockets the button. “It is pretty. I bet I can sell it for a pretty penny.”

“Haha!!” shouts Reinhold. “Didn’t I myself state something almost identical only a minute ago? My word, Uko, you are a man after my own heart.”

Uko grins up to his ears. “Let’s throw this bag of bones down into the hole.” Reinhold wants to help, but Phoebe ushers him back. “Stay where you are, I don’t want to hear any more of your filthy thoughts.”

“So what? Why don’t YOU step back?”
He steps forward and grabs the dead goblin by the ankles. Uko takes the hands, and they throw the guard down into the dark shaft. Standing together in the bubble, they look each other up happily. Phoebe hears nothing – the exchange of thoughts is confined in the magic bubble. But it is obvious that this is the birth of an exquisite bromance.

Meanwhile, outside, the others have cornered the goblin.

The cave opens onto a thirty yard wide rock lip in the cliff that looks out across the town of Woodbridge and the harbour. The Cursed Lake is glittering in the afternoon sun, tiny human specks move in the town squares and on the walls, or man the ships.

The goblin has nowhere to go except down the cliff face or back.

He turns around and raises an axe to face his enemies.

Basil blocks his way back into the dungeon, Ursula closes in from his left, Oswald advances from his right side. And behind Basil, Harmony nocks a new arrow. In goblin, she demands: “Tell us about the captive humans! Where are they?”

“Die, Elven scum!” he shouts, and attacks.

Her arrow pierces his chest, and he topples over without a sound.

Basil picks up the axe. “Looks good”, he says, and tries a couple of swings with it.

Ursula kicks the goblin a couple of times. “Dead,” she pronounces.

Harmony cuts her arrow from his back. The one in his chest broke when he fell.

Oswald takes a long look down on Woodbridge.

“Nice view,” he says, sheathing his weapon. “If I was the gobbos, I’d put a ballista up here and pick off the guys on the Cursed Tower.”

“Maybe they will one day.”

On his belt, the fallen goblin carries a small hunting horn. Since Harmony shows no interest in it, Ursula puts it into her backpack.

They return to the old elven hall, leaving the dead goblin where it fell.

*Next move, back in Room 1:*

  • Follow the line from the alarm
  • Try the stone door

#TheSpiderPit – part 18 – *the door*

The adventurers follow the string that runs through a series of metal rings along the ceiling into a dark corridor with an even floor and smoothed walls. They light a torch and walk in – just six yards or so – then the corridor ends at a solid wooden door in an uneven rock face – a typical door with a regular door handle and a regular lock. The string disappears into a hole that has been drilled into the rock right beside the door.

*How to proceed:*

  • Pull the string
  • Knock at the door
  • Try the door handle
  • Try to pick the lock
  • Ram the door down with force

#TheSpiderPit – part 19 – *opposing force*

Ursula reaches for the string as if to pull it, but Phoebe slaps her hand away. “The guards wanted to pull that.”

She looks at the door handle and thinks about trying it, just like that. But then she turns around: “Reinhold? Give that skull to Uko and work your magic on that door.”

Reinhold struggles between being offended for being ordered around and flattered for being considered the finest fingersmith in the party. He decides on the latter and puts his backpack down, pulls the lockpicks and takes point. He kneels down, investigates the lock and inserts two of his metal hooks.

The door is not even locked – he easily turns the mechanism and pushes it open

Phoebe, Ursula, and Reinhold peer through the crack to witness a gruesome scene.

It is some kind of natural cave, but with lanterns, bedrolls, and little chests – living quarters.

Three goblins, armed and lightly armored, have strung up a little creature on a wooden board close to the left wall. It is a kobold that is being tortured, and it wails in pain as it’s tormentors laugh and gouge at his tiny body with daggers and needles, and burn him with little firebrands.

To the left of them there is another goblin, without armor, but with a wicked sword he’s busy sharpening with a large grey whetstone. He completely ignores what is going on with the kobold, deeply immersed in his work on the blade.

Phoebe uses a steel mirror to reveal the other side of the cave. Close to a lantern there is a fifth goblin. He sits on his bedroll and seems to be studying a parchment. He is unarmored, but an axe is leaning close to him.

The walls are bare rock apart from one parchment on the left wall depicting a crude drawing of a female goblin, and a spot on the right, where there is a roughly door-sized batch of dark fur hanging like a tapestry.

On the far end of the cave room there is an opening that leads further on.

Character stats:

  • Close and leave all sneaky like
  • Sudden attack like barbarians!
  • Speak to them (comment details)
  • Special Tactics (comment details)

#TheSpiderPit – part 20 – *Open Warfare*

Phoebe loosens her axe and signals “attack” to the others, but some in the groups waver. Carefully, they close the door and discuss their options. Phoebe is impatient. Five goblins are a considerable force, but with surprise on their side and slightly superior numbers the odds seem good for the adventurers. Uko and Reinhold doubt that the attack makes sense – they don’t expect to find Wendy in there, and this needless risk can be avoided. Phoebe and Oswald argue in favour of the attack to make sure their retreat isn’t blocked by this unit. “We will never have another chance to surprise them like this.”

Harmony brings up ranged weapons, and that idea appeals to Uko. A quick battle plan is hashed out, and the group decides on an attack.

As they throw open the door and spill into the cave like a wave of steel, the goblins are taken completely unawares, so the first round is a comfortable attack with advantage. The sword-carer is the first to notice that something is amiss, since he is the only one facing the door.

Uko shoots the guy just as he opens his maw to alert the others – the crossbow-bolt hits him right in the chest, center mass, and the goblin merely gasps instead of shouting.

Harmony shoots the reader – her arrow pins his left arm to his torso and he shrieks in agony.

Phoebe strikes the first of the torturers in the neck, he goes down splattering the kobold with goblin blood. He never knew what hit him.

Basil Slee swings his warhammer two-handed. The second torturer is halfway into turning towards him when the wicked weapon comes down on him like a lightning bolt, ending his story immediately.

The third torturer is Oswald’s target. He has been standing with half a line of sight to the door and witnessed his comrades going down, so he has got the time to comprehend what is going on. Oswald stabs him as he tries to twist away, and the sword opens a bloody gash in his side.

Ursula follows behind the trio – she is to finish off any who survive the first assault. She swings her hatchet, but the blade glances off the goblin’s shoulderguard.

Last to attack is Reinhold. He shoulders through the melee and hacks at the survivor, but his blade is blocked by the goblin’s crossguard as he draws his sword.

One round in, three goblins down, two damaged. The reader drops his parchment and grabs the axe, as Harmony draws a second shot and shoots him in the face. He is out.

The sole survivor shouts an alarm, that’s all the time he has before he is hacked and stabbed again by Phoebe, Basil and Oswald. His death is not pretty.

The fight seems over, with zero losses, but the adventurers stay alert – to whom did the goblin shout out?

They do not have to wait long. The fur at the wall is thrown back and another goblin enters. He carries a wicked hook-blade and his unfazed approach makes it clear that this one is not some rookie – it is a veteran who knows his drill.

Harmony is right in front of him, but she is quick on the uptake, and nimble. She propels herself back into the corridor and out of reach.

That leaves Ursula and Reinhold as his first targets. He goes for Ursula’s head with a horizontal swing, but she manages to duck out of the way. Her counterswing misses as well, but Reinhold gets a hit in, drawing blood on the goblin’s weapon arm.

Uko has reloaded the crossbow and shoots from the hip. Too cocky – the bolt misses the veteran’s head and shatters against the cave wall.

Reinhold barely parries the next swing, then Ursula buries her hatchet in the goblin’s thigh.

Spitting out a wicked curse in goblin, the wounded enemy draws back into his tunnel and out of sight behind the fur tapestry.

The adventurers remain alone with five dead goblins and a madly cackling kobold.

  • Finish him!
  • Flee!
  • Communicate friendly
  • Communicate aggro

#TheSpiderPit – part 21 – *Negotiation*

It seems clear that the adventurers have to get rid of the goblin fighter, yet they hesitate. The corridor is narrow, and the tactical advantage lies with the man inside.

On an impulse, Uko calls out to him, in goblin:

“Yo, brother! Listen! Let’s resolve this!”

A moment of silence, then the goblin answers: “Brother?? You have killed my men!”

A difficult argument. But at least it is clear now that the goblin has not run far, and he appears to be alone. Uko eyes Phoebe, who is impatient to strike.

“Well… yes. That we did. But you are a man of war – you know why we had to attack!”

“Piss off or I’ll take all your heads, you slimeworms!”

“Come now! Be realistic. We are a whole unit, and we have crossbows! We will win! But we don’t want to kill you! We don’t hate goblins, I am a goblin myself! We can come to an understanding.”

A pause, while the goblin inside is weighing his options.

Then: “Okay. What do you guys want?”

Uko turns to the team: “He wants to know what we want.”

Reinhold shrugs: “This Wendy-woman.” He considers. “Or 400 gold pieces.”
Phoebe glares at him and snaps: “Don’t you dare settle for gold! We are not leaving without Wendy Miller.”

Uko calls into the corridor: “A woman has been taken, a Wen-dee Miller. We are looking for her. Brought here this past night.”

“I see…” Judging by the voice, the goblin warrior slightly relaxes his guard. “I saw them. The slavers brought six human wenches for the Breeder’s Den.”

“How do we get to that place?”

“You don’t! The Breeder’s Den is behind the feasting hall. There are three dozen fighters over there.”

As Uko translates, Reinhold raises an eyebrow. “Sounds like a wonderful place! How comes such a fine gentleman as he is not down there at the Breeder’s Den?”
“That’s not the question!” chides Phoebe. “The question is: How can we get Wendy out. Or all slaves.”

“All slaves? Are you crazy, woman?”

Uko shouts in goblin: “Help us get there!”

The goblin shouts back: “What’s in it for me?”

Indeed, what is in it for him?

  • “We don’t kill you”
  • “We have shiny glass marbles”
  • “Part of the reward in gold”
  • “We have a magic scroll for you”
  • “You get a breeder”

#TheSpiderPit – part 22 – *Inside Insight*

Uko nods at Reinhold: “You’ve got a point, man. What’s he doing out here? He’s bound to hate those three dozen. We could get him a breeder.”

Phoebe shakes her head. “You disgust me. But okay… better she’s with him out in the sun than locked up down in there. May even escape from him, if she wants.”

Uko smiles. “My thoughts exactly.”

He switches back to goblin and shouts: “We’ll get you a breeder, my friend.”

There is a long pause while the goblin thinks this through. Finally he assents.
“You’ve got yourself a deal, goblin.”

Uko gives the others a thumbs-up. He calls: “I’m coming in, friend!” and pulls back the fur cover. On the other side he meets the goblin veteran, and they greet each other in the goblin fashion.

“I’m Uko of the Yellow Bark clan.”
“I’m Mrag the Crimson, of the Red Claws.”

Mrag steps out into the corridor and they all get acquainted. He nods at everyone, and, cautiously, to Harmony as well, who lays her left hand to her heart in formal greeting.

Translated by Uko, the group describes Wendy in as much detail as they got from Balthazar de Vere. He remembers her well – she was defiant and had to be pricked with short spears to go on down into the dungeon. The others were more pliable, one seemed almost in trance. The slavers are still down there, maybe with the boss, a cruel guy who calls himself “The big chief”. He wants to unite the clans, revive the old faith and traditions, and kick out the humans for good – like basically all of the more ambitious leaders, so nobody takes this claim seriously.

There are two realistic ways to get to the breeders, and Mrag sketches them in the sand with his dagger.

The normal way is through the stone door and down some natural stairs. Then there are two guards who will let anyone pass who knows the password, which is, at the moment, “Arakaz”, meaning “Follower of the old ways” in goblin.

Then there is a bridge across the deep water, in full view of a bowmen’s nest, and on the other side there are three ways. A corridor to a crazy human magick-man – don’t go there! – a strong door to the prisoner cells, and a stairway that leads up past the old healer to the feasting hall full of the big chief’s favored warriors, and past that to the Breeder’s Den.

The other way is tricky, but avoids the feasting hall. It goes across an underground stream that gets to a waterfall. But if you cross the stream before the waterfall, you will find a route to climb down to the lake below, and walk around it to an old, long stairwell. That leads to a food storage and from there to a bar, and from there you can also get to the breeder’s den.

“Is that the dragon lake and the stairs from the elven paintings?”

“Yes, but there is no dragon in there, just some other odd swimming creatures, mostly harmless.”

What’s the way to go?

  • Front door and bridge
  • Waterfall and stairs

#TheSpiderPit – part 23 – *Waterway*

Ursula cuts the little kobold free. With surprising agility he tries to bite her fingers, then drops to the floor and runs into a crack in the wall, almost too narrow to believe he really fits in there. Reinhold fetches the magic skull.

Mrag the Crimson nods as the group chooses the underground stream. “You have ropes. They will come in handy.”

He takes the lead and crosses the room full of fallen goblins without so much as a second glance. Then he passes through the corridor in the east. As the adventurers follow, they find themselves in an armory with two sets of light armor and several spare parts, as well as a handful of swords and axes, a workbench and a wooden training dummy.

In the floor, there is a man-sized hole, and Mrag leans down to speak through it.

He gestures at the hole with a reassuring smile, and jumps right into it, sliding down and eastwards.

There are no other options, so Phoebe shrugs and slides down after him. Uko follows her, then the others get in line and follow. They emerge in a crude but spacious kitchen, where Mrag speaks to a nervous-looking cook clutching a big butcher’s knife. The cook watches apprehensively as one armed stranger after another pops out of the manhole. From the single exit to the east they can hear rushing water, until Reinhold comes in with his magic skull — then a cacophony of thoughts starts, incomprehensible, until the goblins, Harmony, Phoebe and Oswald step away and the information overflow gets more manageable. Then Ursula jumps away and out of the bubble. “If you tell that to anyone, I’ll cut your face from your skull, you bastard!” Reinhold shrugs: “You can’t deny the truth.”

Mrag makes a warding sign and leads them down a steep slope into a sandy cave where a rich, fast stream rushes past from the left to disappear in the wall to the right. The air is moist and fresh, but the water is dark.

Uko translates: “That mutant skull is cursed. Stay away with it. It is evil. Here is the water: The current is strong, but you will be okay if you don’t bang your heads. Dive below this rock. It is only a short way, then you come up in a room with two exits left and right. Ignore them both! But leave the water on the other bank over there. There will be a very narrow path along the stream, right to the waterfall, where you can climb down. We can help you: Arok will bring a metal pole where you can fix a rope so you don’t get thrown around by the water.”

Right on cue, the cook appears with a long pole with a hook on the end.

  • Reconsider, take the other way
  • Accept the goblins’ help
  • Go without help
  • Interrogate the goblins with the skull
  • Slay the goblins

#TheSpiderPit – part 24 – *Honesty*

Phoebe and Basil help Arok to secure the pole among the rocks, then everyone works on their backpacks to make sure nothing gets carried off or spoiled by the water. Oswald and Ursula pull the rope tight – it holds fast. Everyone makes ready to go into the stream. Phoebe and Basil step in first. The gurgling water sucks at their legs with force. Both of them lose footing immediately and only stay safe because the rope and Aroks hook hold.

Meanhwhile, Uko incites Harmony to distract Mrag the Crimson so he turns his back to Reinhold. Then the two rogues close in on him, catching him inside the magic bubble with them.

The plan works swimmingly!

Harmony stays out of the bubble and acts surprised, Reinhold and Uko get a peek inside Mrags mind.

Uko hears: “I hate the yellow bark clan, but as far as those whiney little sissies go, this one seems to be half-okay.”

Reinhold hears: “This foppish loser will never survive. I bet he’s going to slip and drown in the lake.”

Mrag the Crimson hears Ukos voice: “He’s so tall. I wish I was this tall. And his tusks are so shiny.”

He also hears Reinhold’s voice: “I’d wager this goblin scum just waits for us to dive and then he’ll cut the rope and lets us all go over the waterfall to our doom. Just what I would do.”

Mrag steps out of the bubble and turns around to sternly look them both over.

  • Kill Mrag!
  • Apologize
  • Demand an apology from him
  • Play innocent

#TheSpiderPit – part 25 – *Dive*

“Oops”, says Reinhold, “damned skull. Gotta watch out better, sorry mate, no harm done.”

Uko avoids Mrag’s eyes and wanders off to check on the rope.

The goblin doesn’t say anything, but he takes care to stay away from Reinhold and Uko.

“What did he think?” asks Harmony. Uko just shrugs. “Nothing important.”

Finally everything’s ready and the group marches into the stream.

One after another the adventurers go under and follow the current. They cling to the rope as the water tears at their clothes, shields, and backpacks.

Reinhold is the last to go, and as he dives he looks back at the goblins. Mrag the Crimson flashes his teeth in a wide grin and makes a sawing motion with his hand on the rope.

Phoebe ist the first to emerge on the other side, in a smaller cave hall. It really was only a short way. In this room, the noise of crashing water dominates. In front of her she can see mist rising from the waterfall, and she can see the small ledge that follows the left bank of the stream.

On both sides there are sandy beaches. On the left side, apart from the ledge, the cave also leads into a cavernous tunnel going eastwards into deep darkness. On the right side there is a cave entrance lit by a torch. Close to the waterfront she can see a trough with clothing either freshly washed or ready to wash, hard to tell from in here.

Basil’s head pops up next.

Left side: dark cave and narrow path to the waterfall.

Right side: washing trough and torchlight.

  • Make landfall on the left
  • Make landfall on the right

#TheSpiderPit – part 26 – *Onwards!*

Phoebe and Basil crawl onto land and secure the line, the others follow one by one and drop on the beach, exhausted.

“How the hell does he think we are going to return?” pants Ursula over the din of the rushing water.

Harmony rubs her arms and moans. “I think my shoulder has popped out of its socket!”

Only Basil and Oswald seem quite happy with the experience. They are already checking equipment and find everything in order.

_rolling for encounter – nope_

Phoebe carefully walks up to the lip of the waterfall and looks down into a wide cave, where a line of lanterns is visible in the distance, but not much else. Then she makes out a dark body of water.

The narrow ledge before her is wet, with patches of slimy moss.

Basil is worried: “Th…they will s-s-see our t-t-torch.”

She nods. “Yes, but we can’t make that climb without light. It is a risk we must take.”

Reinhold looks at the moss and remembers Mrag’s thoughts about him plummeting to his death.

“We should tie us together with rope.”

“Well, the rope is up there with Mrag.”

“Don’t we have another one?”

“We have a length of chain.”

“A shorth of chain, rather! This is only long enough for four of us, if we stay close together.”

“Two trips then: Four, then one goes back and fetches the other three.”

How to proceed:

  • Follow the ledge one by one
  • Two trips chained together
  • Explore the dark cave instead

#TheSpiderPit – part 27 – *Time to dice*

The adventurers discuss their options, and it is a close call between securing each other by chain or going one by one. In the end they compromise: Ursula, who is the best climber of the lot, goes first, and sets her feet carefully for the others to follow.

Reinhold and Uko follow her lead, each copying the moves of the person before them,

( _so they all roll DEX saves with advantage_ ).

The rest of the gang are less confident in their climbing skills and rely on each other to keep them safe. They tie a chain from Phoebe to Oswald to Harmony to Basil.
( _They roll DEX saves with a bonus of 1_ )

Ursula avoids the slimy algae and uses every handhold on the cliff face. She easily goes past the tricky parts to find a platform with a line of crude metal spikes driven into the rock – almost a ladder, leading down to the shore of a black lake.

Reinhold makes it as well, and laughs: “That was easy!”

Ursula shushes him and hisses: “Shut up! The water carries your voice!”

Uko is next. “Whew!”

Phoebe tries to be careful, but halfway through the task she missteps, slips, and slides off the ledge. Her fingers dig into the wall but slide off the moist surface. A moment of panic, then Oswald jerks on the chain and stops her descent.

( _Made a STR save_ )

Wide-eyed, she looks down where the waterfall crashes into the lake. Then she nods to Oswald and goes on.

Oswald avoids the foothold where Phoebe slipped and tries to warn Harmony, but she misunderstands his signal and slips just like Phoebe!

Oswald is too surprised to resist the pull on the chain and starts to slide as well. ( _Failed a STR save_ ) Both dangle over the dark deep.

But Basil and Phoebe hold them both with grim determination. ( _Both made their STR saves_ ) With a heave, he pulls Harmony up to safety, and she and Phoebe help Oswald back up.

Basil takes his time and avoids the slippery spot. Soon enough, everyone is on the platform to take a quick rest.

“That was close!” says Phoebe, and Harmony shudders, looking down into the water. “I don’t trust this lake.”

Reinhold shakes his backpack. “Odd that the skull doesn’t say anything!”
“Thank the gods!” groans Phoebe. “I’d probably jump down there if it did.”

“Maybe it has spent it’s power?” suggests Harmony. Reinhold makes a face.

The climbing spikes seem to be the only way down.

Maze Rats Play by Poll – The Spider Pit

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