Maze Rats – The Spider Pit 4

#TheSpiderPit – part 56 – *The Great Escape*

Battling the growing cloud of hot smoke, Phoebe organizes the slaves in two groups: Group 1 carries Wendy, group 2 carries the unconscious woman with the broken nose.

With the flames consuming curtains and pillows all around them, the adventurers use their shields to protect everyone from the rising heat.

“Get out! Now!” Phoebe shouts.

As breathing gets harder, Ursula opens the northern door, kicks the dead goblin aside and takes the lead down a couple of stairs that gently curve to the right. “Where do they end?” she asks Nog.

“They lead to the feasting hall and the big chasm.”

She rolls her eyes. “Great.”

Soon the stairs end at an opening into the feasting hall. Ursula peers around the corner and counts 8 warriors moving around in the room, but none of them close.

About 6 strides away there is another corridor gently loping downward in a northwestern direction.

In the opposite wall, 10 strides away, there is a door.

Nog whispers: “The corridor leads to the chasm and freedom!”

“And how the hell are we going to get there without being seen? We are eighteen people!”

  • Just go for it
  • Attack the eight goblins
  • Let Uko and Nog stage a diversion
  • Use magic scroll “Summon Cauldron”
  • Something else (comment)

#TheSpiderPit – part 57 – *Satanic Panic*

Phoebe pulls the scroll out of her backpack and squints at the eldritch symbols.

Harmony takes it out of her hands. “Let me, I’m a professional.”

She runs the ancient words through her head, then looks for a good spot for the cauldron and starts the incantation.

Despite rolling with advantage, she immediately feels that the spell goes awry. An unnatural growl rumbles through the hall, then a fey twilight creeps from the shadows and engulfs the feasting hall into a cold twilight.

Instant panic grips the goblins. Loudly calling out to their deities, they drop what weapons and gear they carry and run to the nearest exits – several pile into the kitchen, two rip open a closer door, some others flee through the far door, only to return wailing and crying to follow the others into the kitchen.

The slaves are also shocked – they don’t know that the intention was a simple summoning of food, they believe that Harmony called down demonic darkness over the land. Dropping their helpless charges, they flee back up towards the roaring fire in superstitious fright.

  • Stop the slaves and calm them down
  • Take the two unconscious ones and leave

#TheSpiderPit – part 58 – *Thoughts and Prayers*

Phoebe and Ursula chase after the panicked slaves and catch up with them just as they realize that their route is blocked by inhuman heat and choking smoke. They are all surprised by how violently the breeder’s den burns. Ursula doubts that anything will survive in there.

“Follow me!” Phoebe commands, “this darkness is just a trick! A light effect! An illusion! Our chance to escape! Come with me, back home!”

The word “home” gets their full attention. She manages to quiet them down and they return with her to pick up their dropped comrades.

The episode took a while, though, and in the meantime three of the braver goblins have dared to confront the unnatural dusk, carrying an idol, a firebrand, and a bound and gagged fang goose. They are praying to their savage deities, apparently to dissolve Harmony’s spell.

  • Scare them away
  • Sneak by while they focus on rituals
  • Surprise attack

#TheSpiderPit – part 59 – *Blades in the Dark*

The adventurers do not wait if this idol can or cannot dissipate the hex. Harmony and Uko shoot at the trio of faithful, then Phoebe, Basil, Oswald, and Reinhold rush the survivors. Ursula hangs back to protect the shooters against counterattacks.

Both initial shots fly true. The lead priest and the Acolyte carrying the goose both get hit in the arm – the idol almost drops, but the priest is able to catch it. The goose, on the other hand, breaks free.

Then close combat breaks out.

Phoebe hits the priest with a wicked whack. Basil follows up and breaks the man’s neck with his hammer. Now nothing is left to hold the idol – it falls and shatters on the ground, a number of ugly visages that were fixed to its body break off and roll under the table.

Oswald swings at goose-boy, but misses.

Reinhold has more luck. The magic skull whispers: “Oh shit, a human! I’ll duck to the right!”

Reinhold hacks to the right and cleaves flesh.

Second round: The priest is dead, but the two acolytes are smart enough on their own to puzzle out who was responsible for this unholy darkness. They draw their curved blades and attack.

Goose-boy is too weak from his wounds to break through the defenses of his opponents, but the fire-carrier smashes Phoebe’s shield to splinters.

Phoebe and Basil crowd him from two sides.

Phoebe’s swing goes wide, but Basil hits center mass and breaks ribs – too many ribs. The goblin falls and coughs his last.

Oswald and Reinhold stab at goose-boy, but to no avail.

Lucky for them, Harmony and Uko have reloaded and shoot another volley.

Their darts pierce the goblin, and he falls and loses his blade as he topples a couple of chairs.

Victory!

But no time to lose.

While the fang goose struggles to get rid of it’s gag, the group herds the slaves down the next corridor that winds downwards. Soon there is another corridor that branches off to the left. This side-tunnel ends at a door inscribed with the old healer symbol. The main tunnel goes on for another couple of yards until it opens into a bigger room.

  • Left: To the Healer
  • Onwards: To the big room

#TheSpiderPit – part 60 – *The Healer*

As the trek nears the door, it suddenly opens. An unarmed goblin woman is standing in the firelight, an old, bent hag, but still nimble. “In with you!” she cries in goblin, and as Uko translates, the humans pile into the healer’s cave.

The place is barely big enough for them all, seven adventurers, a goblin traitor, and ten freed slaves. There are four beds and a lot of shelves filled with a range of different herbs, bottles, and spices.

Only one other patient is present – a goblin warrior whose arm had to be amputated, the wound cauterized.

The old woman seems to be the healer — her claws probe at the angry red welt across the one slave’s face. Soon she bustles back and forth, orders the famished slaves to eat from a bowl of corn while applying a salve to the stricken woman’s face.

She’s muttering in goblin all the time, but seems to be either unaware of or uninterested in the fact that most of her new house guests are human.

“Is this the healer that checked you on arrival?” Phoebe asks of one of the fresh slaves.

“Yes, she is. She had us stand in chains and checked us all out, looked at our teeth and pulled our hair and so on.”

The healer interrupts them and hands Phoebe a cup. “Drink!” she orders in common.
“No!” Phoebe resists, but the healer points at her face and the bite marks of the dirt flies. “Drink!” she repeats forcefully – then she is off to look after Wendy.

Phoebe thinks it through, but then drinks, and feels better immediately. Her Health points are back to full.

Under the ministrations of the goblin healer woman, the beaten girl, an Ilda, and Wendy come to their senses. The others explain what’s going on.

The healer smirks happily.

“Stay the night!” she commands.

Phoebe looks her crews over. No way. They have to leave before the warrior goblins find it in them to brave the vile darkness that lingers in their feasting hall.

“How do we get out?” she demands of the healer, only to hear another “Stay!”

Uko explains to her that they are fugitives and need to go.

She points at Wendy and Ilda. “Stay!”

What to do?

  • Make camp here?
  • Look for an exit?
  • Interrogate the healer?

#TheSpiderPit – part 61 – *Good Boys*

Given the shaky grasp of the human tongue on the healer’s part, Uko and Harmony quiz the old woman in her native goblin. The healer is pretty adamant in demanding rest and quiet for Ilda and Wendy, and she is upset about the condition of the longer-serving slaves Pipita, Rashel, Dorrit, and Iulia. She orders them to get more vegetables and fish to make up for the sparse light down here, and goes on in some detail about nourishment, until Uko calms her down with talk about sunlight and the question of how to get there.

“Sunlight!” she exclaims reverently. “Sunlight is so healthy! But now it is night!”

Nog keeps watch at the door. He is nervous about possible patrols barging in.

“Where do we get to the sunlight?”

“You must go outside of course!”

“Where is the exit?”

She explains that from the big room at the end of the corridor, there is a bridge across the gap. After that, there is a pond of acid and a stairwell to get upstairs and out into the woods.

Yes, there are guards, of course, but they are good boys although they do not help carrying herbs, which is a bother, and the archers never come down to help her cross the bridge at all.

“How often do they come here?”

“Here, to me? Not often. Only when they are sick. Or when there are new recruits. Or when they bring hoomans. Or when they are hurt. Or when they want something.”
In other words: Quite often.

Uko and Harmony get the impression that this healer is not the sharpest thinker, but she undoubtedly knows her healing.

Reinhold quits playing mind-games with the slave girls and comes over to read the healer’s thoughts about him. She is quite taken aback to learn that he thinks of her in terms like “hag” “crazy”, “greenskin” and “ugly”, while she thinks of him in simple medical terms. The fact that he is a human while she is a goblin seems to matter to her only in manners of placement of organs and muscle groups and in diets. His presence does not disturb her at all, although that changes slightly as his thoughts about her begin to drift towards “simpleton” and “dumb witch”. She now thinks of him as “rude” and “mean-spirited”.

Staying or leaving the wounded seems out of the question now.

But the healer does not quite grasp their situation as intruders.

The door is the only exit from this place.

  • Send Ursula to scout
  • Send Uko and Nog to scout
  • Leave as a group

#TheSpiderPit – part 62 – *Friendly neighbours*

Uko and Nog quickly open the door and scurry out to get a feel for what lies ahead. As they return to the main tunnel they can see that the unnatural darkness up in the feasting hall has grown even darker and, if at all possible, more unnatural.

The two goblins shudder and turn left, and down, towards the bigger room.

“There is a tunnel that nobody is allowed to take,” explains Nog. “This belongs to a mad human wizard or warlock or something, who does his own thing in there.”

“So he does not work for the big chief?”

“No, not at all. Everyone fears him. Two of the boys said they saw him, and they said he had no face under that hood of his. They believe he is no human at all, but something else.”

Uko purses his lips in an excessive show of doubt, but shrugs. “We have no beef with crazy wizards. We want to get Wendy to safety, is all.”

The tunnel widens and opens up into a huge natural hall, a wide cave cut in half by an impressive chasm.

On their side, the two goblins see a crude door in the wall (“That’s the prison”, says Nog), and an open tunnel with a big sign depicting the goblin symbol for “No”, “Nobody”, or “Stop”. (“That’s the mad warlock’s cave.”)

A suspension bridge spans the gap, with strong cords stretching from two wooden posts on the southern side to two wooden posts on the northern side. Thick, fresh planks form a walkway that looks a lot better than your usual suspension bridge.

“Good work, this bridge.”

“Yes. I have no idea who built it, though. Not us.”

On the northern side there is a cave entrance on the right wall, an opening in the center, a pond (“Oh, that is the acid pool she talked about?”) and a terrace overlooking the bridge.

On that terrace leans a goblin with a composite bow and a quiver full of black darts with thick white fletching, and he stares at them angrily.

“Hey, you hairnuggets!” the archer calls.

Uko looks around for other people.

“Yes, you two fartfaces!”

Uko points at himself and shouts back: “What, US?”

“Yeah, you! Are you dumb? Why are you standing there like some braindead humans?

“What?”

The archer shakes a fist at them: “Don’t make me angry, wormbrain! Get your green arses across and explain what’s going on!”

Nog shouts back: “What do you mean, what’s going on?”

Two other goblins, heavily armed and armored, come out of the center opening in the north and call back: “Quit shouting like horny breeders, or we’ll drown your pigfaces down in the river!”

The archer shakes a fist at them, but disappears back into the room behind him. Another archer takes his place.

“Don’t stand there, you ugly pigs!” he cries over at Nog and Uko.

*What now?*

  • Tell the archer to sod off
  • Cross the bridge
  • Go to the prison
  • Go to the mad warlock
  • Retreat back into the tunnel

#TheSpiderPit – part 63 – *Into Darkness*

“Mind your own business, cross-eyes!” shouts Uko, to Nog’s horror.
The archer leans over his parapet and furiously calls them several strong expletives and gets joined by his comrade. Uko counters blow for blow, until the armored guys intervene and enter into their own shouting match with the archers to shut up the ruckus.

While the guys on the northern side are occupied, Uko takes a closer look at the mad warlock’s entrance. A flustered Nog tries to dissuade him and recounts horrible stories of shrieks and foul stenches, strange lights and goblins who disappeared never to be seen again.

“Nonsense,” says Uko, “those are classics. Every odd elven ruin has the same stories.”

The bearded goblin hefts his shield and boldly enters the corridor next to the “STOP”-sign. Nog fearfully follows him.

Light goes out pretty quickly. The two goblins reach a horribly dark room with an odd musty smell. Ahead, there is an opening that leads into another corridor that is faintly lit from somewhere beyond.

  • Turn back
  • Fetch a torch
  • Carefully go on

#TheSpiderPit – part 64 – *It’s a trap!*

Uko slowly feels his way forward, leading with his shield. The corridor beyond the dark room looks inviting, it even has a thick woven carpet rolled out to cover the crude stone floor. Uko can feel Nog staying close to him with clattering teeth.

“Be quiet!” he orders, and Nog tries to keep his mouth closed, although bursts of muted clattering can still be heard as they shuffle across the dark room.

Suddenly, the clattering gets much more pronounced. It does not come from Nog, though. Four glowing pairs of …. eyesockets? appear around them, one to the front left, one to the front right, and two more from the corners behind the two goblins. The telltale click-a-clack of bone on bone keeps in synch with the bobbing and weaving of the glowing eyesockets in the dark.

Nog voices his horrified conclusion: “Skeletons!”

Uko has to agree: It is too dark to properly see them, but it must be magically animated bones guarding this entrance against unannounced visitors. A crazy way of protecting one’s privacy. How about a good door instead?

The apparitions are still three steps away, so Uko invests a moment to assess their options.

  • Attack the skeletons.
  • Cower and play dead.
  • Shout for help.
  • Outrun them towards light ahead.
  • Quickly flee back to cave hall.

#TheSpiderPit – part 65 – *Life and Death*

“Run.” says Uko, and Nog needs no further invitation. Both goblins turn around on the spot and run back into the corridor they came from. The two skeletons behind them move to intercept in a sudden lurch to the center. Uko feints to the left, then rushes past “his” skeleton much closer than expected. It tries to hit him with a mace, but misses horribly as he passes under it’s upper arm bone.

Nog is less lucky. “His” skeleton guesses his movement right and grabs him by the shirt.

It also has a mace, and brings it down in a short and cruel chopping motion. Uko is horrified to hear a sickening crunch as he sees his newfound comrade’s shoulder and back cave under a massive hit. Nog cries out and his saber drops from his hand.

Uko must decide on an impulse:

  • Run away
  • Slow down, pull Nog outside
  • Stop and attack the skeleton

#TheSpiderPit – part 66 – *On Death’s Door*

Instinctively, Uko pivots and hits the skeleton’s hand with the shield rim. It lets go, he grabs the slumped form of Nog and pulls.

“Ough!”

Nog is a lot heavier than he looks, especially now that he sags like a bag of sand.

The angry skeleton strikes! Uko blocks the hit, but feels the strike in his shoulder, losing a point of health. It’s companion strikes, too – but the mace glances off the shield.

Now Uko grips Nog with both hands and drags with all he’s got.

He makes good distance and watches the skeletons stand there – they do not follow him, they just watch with their eerie, glowing eyes.

Just around the bend Uko is back in the cave with the chasm, and the archers and armored guards are waiting for him.

“You worm-brained mook!” one calls from across the gap.

“What did you think would happen!?”

“Is your loser friend dead?”

“You worthless noobs! Nobody goes to the mad wizard!”

Uko is in no mood to quip back. Nog looks almost dead. There is only one chance: To get Nog to the healer. But at the healer, there are the others.

  • Give up on Nog, let him die
  • Ask the guards for aid
  • Carry him alone
  • Get the healer to come here

#TheSpiderPit – part 67 – *Carry on your wayward friend*

Uko knows that every breath counts for Nog. He has to lift and carry him to the healer. It is not far, he can make it. Quickly he wraps the goblin’s undamaged arm around his shoulder and pulls him off the ground.

But Nog is too heavy.

Uko pulls like a strongman, but he loses balance and falls, and Nog’s body buries him.

Fascinated and entertained, the guards watch the spectacle and comment:

“You can’t do it! You are a weakling!”

“You have to eat more!”
“Just dump him down the gap! He’s a goner.”

“That’s pathetic! Just end his misery and cut his throat!”

Uko ignores the helpful comments and thinks. If Nog is too heavy, he need to shed weight.

He lays down his shield and backpack and sheds his armor, then discards Nog’s satchel.

A new go: Arm over his shoulder, hold on tight, and go! Uko’s thighs tremble with the effort, but he somehow manages to shoulder his wounded comrade. After taking a couple of steps he turns around and sees the archers watch the pile of his belongings.

“I’ll be back in a moment, you oversized magpies! If any one item is missing, I’m coming up to your little window and take your balls.”

The archers are offended: “We wouldn’t touch your stinking pile of refuse even if you’d pay us to do it!”

The bearded goblin turns away and concentrates on his cargo. Wheezing like a 100-year-old he stumbles up the corridor and finally takes the turn toward the healer’s room. Harmony was an the lookout at the door and darts outside to help him. Together they bed Nog on one of the healer’s cots, where the old goblin hag tut-tuts and smacks her lips, as she examines her new patient.

“MUST rest!” she declares, then she cuts away his shirt and cleans the wound, carefully rearranges his splintered ribs, and dresses his shoulder and upper body in salve and linnen.

“Will LIVE,” she explains. “NO move.”

“Looks like Nog’s going to stay here,” Phoebe declares. “But we have to go on.”

Uko nods. “At least he lives. This was my fault.”

He recounts their tale and explains about the options:

  • The prison, as yet unknown.
  • The mad warlock – he urgently warns the group about the animated, bone-headed hazards of that particular choice.
  • The hanging bridge with it’s exit beyond, the annoying archers and the armored guards.

Oswald muses: “No matter where we want to go – we need to get past these lookouts.”

“Do you think you can get the archers if you shoot from the tunnel opening?” asks Phoebe.

Uko is not sure. He exchanges a glance with Harmony. “We certainly could, but their position is better. They have high ground with cover, they can easily see the tunnel. To aim at them, we would have to come into full view. And we are only two.”
Phoebe smiles. “But they know YOU now. You could easily get across the bridge and surprise them.”
“Surprise them with what, exactly?”

“You’ll think of something – and Harmony can cover you.”

*What now?*

  • Sniper battle across the chasm.
  • Infiltration.
  • Scout out the prison.

#TheSpiderPit – part 68 – *Distraction*

Uko is not happy about the prospect, but he agrees to get closer to the guards and exploit their assumption that he belongs to the big chief. Carrying his crossbow, he moves out to collect his belongings, which lie undisturbed where he left them, together with Nog’s satchel. After a short deliberation, he decides to keep it.

Donning his armor, he rotates his aching arm and drinks his healing potion to dull the pain.

The armored guards have gone back out of sight, but the archers are curious: “So, did he live? That ugly friend of yours?”

Uko wipes his mouth with his arm, picks up the crossbow and steps forward to throw the medicine bottle down into the stream that rushes past some 20 or 25 feet below. Then he walks across the bridge towards the goblin outpost.

Meanwhile, Harmony and Ursula sneak close to the entrance, bow and slingshot at the ready. The others are waiting higher in the corridor.

Both of the archers are watching Uko as he reaches their side and walks around the pool of acid to stand directly below their lookout post.

“He will be okay,” Uko finally explains. “But it was a close shave.”

“You shouldn’t have gone in there,” one of the archers chides him. “Why did you?”

“Well, there’s a little problem up in the feasting hall,” Uko says. “Some odd magical effect or something. So we figured the warlock could help with that.”

“A magical effect?”

Their interest is piqued, both of them lean across the parapet and concentrate on Uko to hear more.

  • Let Uko ask them how to get up there
  • Ask them about their job
  • Let Harmony take a well-aimed shot
  • Let Harmony and Ursula sneak across the bridge

#TheSpiderPit – part 69 – *The Archer’s Lament*

“Well, yeah, the magical effect … some odd darkness up in the feasting hall. We have no idea what it does, so they sent us to look for a solution.”

“Wow! And you actually thought the warlock would help you?”

Uko begins to suspect that these archers don’t have much contact with the other guards.

“You guys don’t get to see much here, do you? We hear you’re elite guards, but what do you actually do?”

The archers vent their frustrations:

“My man, you have no idea! Just because we are good shots we have to sit up in this shitnest all day every day and watch patrols walk this way and that. It is the most lame, utterly boring job ever. Except maybe the night shift.” He makes a vague motion towards the back of his cave up there, as if pointing out some other archers.

Then he sighs and shrugs his fishmail-shirt into a more comfortable position.

“I wish I’d stayed at home, in Wirgwazr. There’s at least a war going on. But there is no glory here, just biding time in moldy caves, watching other guys move out and catch slaves or whatever, while we sit here and collect dust…. It is horrible.”

“That really sounds awful. When did you last get to shoot someone?”

“That’s a whole month ago! A slave girl tried to make a run for it and we shot her down. But we had to wait until she was well across the bridge, because we can’t risk any humans falling into the stream. It would be awkward, having a human body wash up under that Woodbridge bridge. I bet they would come a-looking then.”

Uko quickly thinks about the “Cursed Creek”, the river that separates Woodbridge from the mainland. It comes out of the Cursed Lake. So this waterway down under the bridge leads into the Cursed Falls – the waterfall that feeds the lake and the river.

That would be a spectacular exit – although the falls are a bit high, and then there would be the cursed lake to swim through. Not a good option for Wendy. And there’s the odd name of that lake to consider.

  • Say goodbye and return
  • Say goodbye, move exit-wards
  • Invite them to gambling
  • Offer to relieve them for a while
  • Ask about the other guards

#TheSpiderPit – part 70 – *The snipers’ nest*

“You know what,” Uko says, “if you’d like to go out for a bit and shoot some deer or stuff, I could cover for you for a spell. I have nothing else to do, so, no loss for me.”

“You’d do that?”

Both archers look at him aghast.

“You are really something, man! But, see, what if we do that and someone comes down from up there and sees we’re not here?”

“I don’t think anyone’s going to come down there anytime soon. There is that magical effect… that’s spooky, and we have no idea what it does.”

“Well, that’s a good point. But that tunnel is the only way down from the feasting hall to the exit here. In other words, if that is blocked by that curse or hex or whatever, they will go up the waterfall and come through that ironbreaker cave yonder.”

One archer points towards the exit, where the heavily armored guards came from earlier.

“It is a longer route, but it is a route.”

Uko remembers the entrance behind the barrel full of laundry… so here’s where it leads.

He shrugs: “But they’d have to go through the stream and get all wet. I don’t think they are going to do that soon.” (He hopes.)

The archers think.

“Tell you what! I’ll take up your offer, but only one of us goes out for some fresh air. That way, if anyone comes to check, they still see two archers. I doubt that they can tell one of us from another anyway.”

“Cool,” says Uko, and the archers throw a piece of bone to determine who may go out for a quick hunt and who must stay. Archer A wins and makes a little happy dance. Archer B shrugs and points towards the darker area to Uko’s left. “Come up then, brother.”

Their manners and choice of words are much improved!

Uko wanders to the left and finds an entrance that leads to a flight of stairs. Once up, he is in a comfortable cave with two chests and a door on the back wall, and the outpost window on the right. A bit farther back there are two bedrolls and a table with two chairs.

Archer A smiles happily, bids Uko good bye, and goes down the stairs, carrying a quiver and his bow. Archer B invites Uko to take his post and asks questions about the crossbow.

  • Attack the Archer
  • Explain crossbow while gang sneaks past
  • Ask about the chests & door

#TheSpiderPit – part 71 – *Guards! Guards!*

The archer admits to have no experience whatsoever with crossbows, despite his high skill with the recurve bow. “No worries, I’ll show you,” Uko promises. “First of all, take it and see how the weight compares to your bow.”

The archer puts his bow onto the table and aims at different heights with the crossbow. “A wee bit heavier”, he judges. “But not a world of difference. How do you make sure the bolt doesn’t just fall off?”

“We’ll try a couple of shots. But first…” Uko steps closer to the window and sees the other archer leaving around a rock formation. He happily waves the goblin goodbye and fetches one of the bow arrows with the white fletching – real, long goose feathers, finely trimmed. These really are a sniper’s arrows. Uko pulls out a bolt for the crossbow and holds the two projectiles side by side. “See how different our munitions are.”

Uko stays close to the window until he is confident that Harmony will have seen him. Then he asks the archer to compare the string of the bow with the tough cable of his crossbow. He uses this moment to signal to Harmony that they should all cross over, hoping that she won’t misunderstand the meaning of his repeatedly rolling arm. But Harmony knows him well, so there’s a good chance for her to pick up his meaning.

Now he leaves the window and demonstrates how the crossbow is loaded, as they discuss the implications of dry fire for both weapons and aim at the door.

Harmony understands his gesture perfectly. She quickly turns around and orders everyone to go across as silently as possible.

Ursula sneaks over the bridge first, then Harmony, then Phoebe. The slaves are next. Most make it across with a minimum of noise, only Ilda stumbles. Her dexterity saves her, though, and soon all slaves are north of the chasm. Basil, Oswald, and Reinhold bring up the rear, and even they make it reasonably quiet.

Looking around the corner, Phoebe spies two exits – one tunnel to the east and one gap leading to a stairwell to the north. The northern door is guarded by the two well-armored goblins Uko and Nog saw earlier.
Of the renegade archer there is nothing to be seen.

  • Attack in full force
  • Distract and sneak east
  • Try intimidation
  • Try bribery
  • Try something else (comment)

#TheSpiderPit – part 72 – *What’s that noise?*

“They will be a problem,” muses Phoebe. “Can we get over there instead?”

Ursula has an idea. She puts a handful of pebbles in her slingshot and carefully gauges the distance to the stairs.

“They curve upwards,” she explains. “I can use that. You all make ready to rush for that entrance!”

When the guards both have their eyes down for a while, Ursula is ready. She seizes the moment and lobs the pebbles right into the stairwell, where they clatter upstairs and fall down again, rolling and falling from step to step.

Both guards are startled and turn around to look into the stairwell. Then they exchange a glance.

They listen intently. Nothing. “Hello?” one of them asks.

Ursula takes another small stone and shoots it right in there again.

She hits!

More strange clattering of stones.

One of the guards hefts his weapon and cautiously walks up to take a look, the other one watches him.

“Go!” Ursula whispers, and sends the slaves off. They sneak across the open area to hide in the eastern cave. Ursula watches the the guards like a hawk.
(They fail a WIL save and notice nothing)

One of them has disappeared from view, the other one has gone up a couple of steps to look after his comrade.

The guy upstairs says something, and Ursula sends off the men, who do their best to stay quiet, but the answer of the guard below masks their sounds.

(The guards fail another WIL save)

Ursula spares a glance for Phoebe and Harmony.

“You two are next,” she says, then picks up another stone.

The guards are both back on the lower stairs to discuss the odd noises.

Ursula shoots a third time — and again she lands a solid hit! Another clattering of stones, and the guard runs up the stairs to catch whoever is responsible.

Ursula sends Harmony and Phoebe running and follows them, always looking out for the guards. (They fail another WIL save)

Success!

They have all made it – all except Uko, of course, who is still up there teaching the sniper the finer points of crossbow-wielding.

Ahead of the group, the tunnel snakes east into a small torch-lit cave with a prominent spear rack holding four strong, barbed spears. Four of the freed slaves arm themselves with the weapons.

The cave, which is quite crowded with fifteen humans and an elf in it, has two exits – a well tread tunnel on the left, and an uneven, natural crack in the rock on the right.

The big tunnel leads toward lamp light. The uneven crack leads into darkness and sharp rocks.

  • Explore the dark crack
  • Explore the tunnel
  • Rest and wait for Uko

#TheSpiderPit – part 73 – *Girls, Interrupted*

The group settles down along the walls and tries to catch some rest. Some of them look after Wendy and Ilda. The freed slaves who took spears familiarize themselves with the weapons, the adventurers help them with it.

Harmony keeps watch to see when Uko comes, but takes care they can’t be seen by the goblin archer on his return. Phoebe goes the other way to watch towards the bigger tunnel.

A couple of minutes go by, then it happens:

From one breath to the next, two goblins are standing in the tunnel. They have clearly heard the women talk, and as Phoebe is startled by their sudden appearance, they see her as well and freeze. One of the goblins and Phoebe lock eyes, and she sees that there is at least one more pointy-ears behind the first two.

For a moment, Phoebe doesn’t move, but her mind races.

These guys don’t look as hardy as the guards at the stairs. But are they three — or more? Tactically speaking, the position is not bad. A tunnel into a wider caver – they have a good spot to run the goblins off, depending on how many they actually are. On the other hand, the guards to the stairway are not too far away. They may hear the fight and come to investigate. If the gang runs, they could retreat to the sniper’s nest to defend – for now.

  • Raise alarm, rush them
  • Raise alarm, make a stand
  • Try to talk to them
  • Run
  • Surrender

#TheSpiderPit – part 74 – *Parlay*

Phoebe’s instinct tells her she has to stay cool as rock and grab the reins if she wants to play that game.

“Hi,” she says with a wary smile.

_Don’t look away,_ she thinks. Without breaking eye contact, she uses the axe head to rap against the wall to catch Basil’s attention. He always keeps close. Dependable. She hears him gasp as he looks over her shoulder. She crosses her arms in front of her chest, holding the axe close to the head – dangerous, but not aggressive.

The goblins are unsure how to react. They were half ready to fight when they saw her, but the “Hi” was a curveball. Their hands hover close to the weapons, but none wants to be the first to pull.

“You looking for us?” Phoebe starts off, walking two more steps towards them.

The goblins look at their leader. He is forced to react in some way. He decides to respond in kind. “Errr… actually, yes, we are. Kind of.”

“How did you get here?”

“Well, we…”

The speaker looks at his comrades – there are at least five, as Phoebe can see now. He doesn’t want to look weak, but he also doesn’t want to risk a split head. In a show of confidence he steps forward to meet her halfway, while his warriors cluster at the entrance to another cave.

“You didn’t expect us here, did you?” she offers, as they meet.

His eyes are drawn to her axe, then back to here eyes.

“Not really, no. They told us to check on the guards. Warn them. Aid them. But we thought you may be long gone.”

Phoebe nods.

“Sent you guys ahead, but stayed back.”

“Pretty much.”

“The big chief?”

He shakes his head. “My orders are just from the Red Claw.”

She nods.

They are watching each other. He is ready to defend himself, but she can read his posture and knows he won’t strike first, if nobody else does anything rash.

“How’s the situation up there?”

He hesitates, then shrugs and says: “ *Somebody* burned down the breeder’s den and there is some kind of curse on our hall.”

“Sorry about that.”

His eyebrows twitch. “You confess to it?”

She shrugs in return. “No point lying.”

He licks his lips, looks over her shoulder towards the gang. They are quiet now, probably ready to fight, but Phoebe knows something about taming animals and figures it is not much different from taming folk, so she stays focused.

“Maybe we can get to some agreement.”

He mulls it over. “What have you got in mind?”

“We did not come to fight. We came to get our girls.”

“The slaves?”

She nods.

“Always knew that wouldn’t end well. Just a matter of time. Why the fire, though?”

“That’s on the matron.”

The goblin accepts that explanation. He doesn’t seem too upset about the breeder’s fate.

“I could see us part friendly,” Phoebe declares. “I figure there was enough going on today. You just missed us, maybe. Never saw us.”

The goblin scratches his jaw. “Yeeaahh… but what about my men? And what about the fishmails back there?”

Phoebe has no clue what he’s talking about when he says ‘fishmails’, but she won’t let him know that.

“I’m listening,” she offers.

“I’d need something to show for me and for my troop here. I’m not sure about the fishmails. They may want their own deal.”

  • Offer a pick from the equipment
  • Offer gold from Wendy’s rescue
  • Offer a new life in Woodbridge
  • Attack
  • Offer something else (comment)

#TheSpiderPit – part 75 – *Indecent Proposal*

They agree on every goblin in the troop taking a pick from the humans’ equipment, the leader taking two things, and everyone going their merry way.

Phoebe and the leader, Gorg Turnfoot, watch the proceedings to make sure there’s no cheating.

The goblins take a hacksaw, a metal file and a shovel, a roll of steel wire, and a sewing needle. Then Gorg takes a bottle of medicine and a steel mirror.

Gorg and Phoebe grasp each other’s forearm in a warrior’s handshake.

“Good to do business with you,” Gorg affirms.

“Likewise.”

“But if I may ask: How are you going to get out? Three fishmails back here, two at the stairs. This will be a tough go, as the fishmails can be stubborn.”

Phoebe nods. “You know more about these halls than I.”

“I do,” Gorg says. “That’s why I believe I can help you. There are only few ways out of these caves. The tunnels over there –” he points towards the east “are not for hoomans. The water –” he points towards the room with the bridge “is tricky and deadly. This leaves the stairs.”

“With their guards.”

“Yes.”

“The fishmails.”

“Yes.”

Phoebe gets impatient. Long palavers are not her way.

“What do you propose?”

“I have noted that you own seven more bottles of medicine. You also have a good number of caltrops, a grappling hook, and a bear trap, and also you have some rations to eat. We would own those things. In exchange, I would draw the fishmails off so you have a chance to leave. This is my price. Take it or leave it.”

Gorg looks at her expectantly.

“Let me confer.”

“Don’t confer too long. When the fishmails notice this meetup, we will all be in trouble.”

Phoebe talks it over with the others. It is a lot of stuff. On the other hand it may help them get around a big problem.

  • Take it
  • Leave it

#TheSpiderPit – part 76 – *Up*

The group agrees, although Basil and Reinhold are troubled to see their personal belongings dwindle. They see the wisdom of the deal, though, and relent. The goblins collect and four of them trundle off to keep the fishmails in this cave occupied. Gorg and one of his warriors stay to make good on their promise.

“We have one of ours up in the bowmen’s nest,” Harmony reminds.

“There is not much we can do about that,” says Phoebe. But he is a goblin. He has better chances to get out than we do.”

Harmony is not happy about that, but the facts are the facts: He has offered to stand in for the freedom-starved sniper, so he cannot just walk off.

“Arright,” says Gorg. I’m going to do just what I was told to: I’ll inform everyone about the hooman menace. But I am going to do that over there by the acid pool. There is no direct line of sight from there to the exit, so while I talk you can get up those stairs. Easy. Okay?”

They think it through, and Reinhold wants to check Gorg’s thoughts with his magic skull, but Oswald checks him. “Trust his word. He has held up so far.” The skull voices their increasing animosity to them, and open hostility kindles, until Phoebe separates them. The novelty effect of the skull has paled for the freed slaves as well, everyone gives Reinhold a wide berth.

“Deal,” Phoebe says.

So Gorg and his sidekick walk out to the guards and order them to come, playing the annoyed messengers. “We are NOT going to tell that tale twice, so come over so the archers can listen!”

The ploy works, and soon the guards, the archer and Uko receive important information from the warchiefs: The passage through the feasting hall is blocked for the time being, and any travel has to go through the fishmail cave and along the lakeshore.

Groaning, discussions, questions.

Gorg starts to explain about the fire in the breeder’s den. Now he has everyone’s full attention.

“Let’s go.”

Phoebe leads on to the stairwell and up it’s gentle curve into deeper darkness. Reinhold comes after her. Harmony goes last, keeping an eye in the direction of the little goblin conference. It troubles her to go on without her green-skinned friend. As Harmony enters the stairwell below, Phoebe already reaches a huge, elaborately carved stone door with a lever. There is a slit right beside the door, and light trickles in through the slit, illuminating the lever. The stairs terminate here. “I bet this lever is a trap,” thinks Reinhold. “The little fool will pull it and kill us all.”
Phoebe turns a weary eye on him and keeps silent, but the goblin skull talks for her: “I’d die happy if I’d be rid of his idiot drivel and never have to see his manly chin and comely shoulders again.”
“You think nonsense, woman,” Reinhold says.
“Shut up!” she hisses. “This is a tunnel! Think of echos!”

  • Pull the lever
  • Investigate stone door
  • Wait for Uko

#TheSpiderPit – part 77 – *Professional*

Phoebe inspects the lever and finds it damaged on the side facing the door and the slit in the wall. “Ah! That’s how they open the door. From this side: The lever. From the other side: Pushing it with a sword or something.”

She grabs the handle.

“Wait!”

Reinhold grabs her hand and stops her from pulling.
“I am a professional. Let me look.”

The skull says: “I want to slap her, but she has an axe.”

It also relays her thoughts: “If you don’t take your hand off mine, I’ll cut it off.”

He pulls back his hand. She lets go of the lever.

“Fine,” she says. “Do your thing, professional.”
“Jerk!” the skull amplifies.

Reinhold sighs and inspects the lever from top to bottom, then lights a torch and looks over the door. It shows a dirty and dusty, but generally beautiful relief of a woodscape with a delicate tower among the trees. At the top there is a bell.
“Ha! A low-tech alarm.”

Otherwise, the leve seems harmless.

He takes the bell off it’s hook and pockets it.

“Go ahead, woman.”

She give him a hard look, and the skull says: “Call me woman one more time and I’ll break your perfect jaw.”

He smiles.

She pulls the lever and the door swings open.
On the other side it is carved into a demon visage they all recognize.

They are in room one. On the left, there is the corridor towards the fountain. On the right the dark corridor towards Mrag the Crimson beckons.

Phoebe remembers they wanted to bring him a breeder… but the breeders are most likely all dead now, baked in the flaming hell of their maze of strawberry curtains.

In front of them there are the tangled roots that lead out of this dungeon, up into the woods.

Two torches burn in this room, no other light is to be seen. Outside, night has fallen.

  • Camp here
  • Speak to Mrag
  • Go to the fountain
  • Leave the dungeon

#TheSpiderPit – part 78 – *The Hall*

The freed slaves wander near the exit in wonder, but Phoebe stops them.

“Wait. We don’t know where this archer went.”

Harmony points at the stone door: “And Uko is still in there.”

“We should find a safe place to keep an eye on things.”

Phoebe leads on through the corridor into the hall with the murals of Mu and his exploits. The broken hole in the back wall is dark now. The fountain gurgles faintly.

One by one the group trickles into the hall.

“That fountain again,” says Oswald with a shudder. He looks at Reinhold’s bag with the skull. “Why not put that thing back?”

“Are you mad? Now that I carried it for hours and hours? No. This skull goes to Woodbridge, and I will sell it.”

Oswald shrugs. “Have it your way.”

The older slaves huddle in a corner and give Wendy and Ilda some rest. The fresher slaves wander around and look at the murals and check out the fountain.

“Look at that! Goblins as slaves!”

Seeing the iron collars of the depicted goblins, Adelaide feels for the metal band on her ankle.
“Most of them don’t look like good workers.”

Harmony smirks. “Yes. But the Silver Empire had many of them. If you throw fifty workers on a task, there are bound to be enough among them who get it done.”

“Silver Empire?”

“It fell a long time before any of us were born.”

“Is this safe to drink?” asks Orchid, pointing into the cool, still pool of clear liquid.

Phoebe shakes her head. “We have no idea. We didn’t try.”

Orchid looks into the liquid: “It is so clean.”

“Yes. Maybe too clean.”

As Bianca walks farther into the room, Ursula warns her: “There’s a hidden trap door at the end. Don’t go there. The only safe way is on the far right side of that hole.”

  • Make camp and wait
  • Taste some water
  • Inspect more murals
  • Go outside through the broken wall

#TheSpiderPit – part 79 – *The Missing Son*

Sybil and Adelaide follow the story of Mu around the room – heeding Ursula’s warning and avoiding the trap door – until they reach a section on the southern wall that piques their interest.

“That is odd!” Sybil exclaims.

“What is odd?”

“Here is the birth of the child. And here the child and the woman are gone. They do not reappear after this picture with the happy family scene.”

“Really?” Harmony steps forward to take a look.

“Mu’s son grew up to turn traitor. He was caught, blinded, and thrown into lightless cavern to die. His mother took her own life.”

She studies the wall.

“There is a door in here. The family scene with the son is the center of the opening. The next is the fall of the Sea Empire, almost a generation later. How did I miss this? The whole Sundering is missing.”

The adventurers gather.

Harmony identifies the break in the story and indicates where the door is. It fits almost seamlessly, but knowing where to look helps, and soon the entrance is obvious. But it is Ursula who, after careful investigation, notices the mechanism to unlock it. There are four pressure plates to press, each one a picture of one of Mu’s weapons.

“It is only four – this double-headed axe and the glaive are missing. On purpose?”

Phoebe pulls her axe. “Open it.”

Basil looks worried, but silently takes position beside his leader.

Reinhold draws the saber and eagerly watches the door. “This could be huge.”

Harmony is less sure. “Yes, this could be huge. It looks like nobody used that door for at least years, maybe decades, maybe lifetimes! Shouldn’t we get Wendy and the others back home before we get into that? And shouldn’t we wait for Uko?”

  • Open the door
  • Wait for Uko
  • Leave the door for another day

#TheSpiderPit – part 80 – *Bugs*

The team is ready as can be. The adventurers take front row, the freed slaves stay behind to support. Ursula pushes the tiles. With a grinding noise, the wall swings sideways and back, revealing a lightless stairwell with murals on the walls. The stairs lead downwards for a couple of yards, then turn left.

A tiny bug scuttles into the light, then another one. They are lightly coloured and move their tiny wings, but do not take flight. The two critters click their mandibles and scuttle forward in two different directions.

There is a subtle clatter and an odd noise of grinding against stone.

Basil clutches his warhammer.

“I… I… I…ve g… g…”

With the rasping noise of hundreds of tough chitin armors, a wave of bugs spills from two holes in the walls of the stairwell and streams into the hall, spreading from the entrance in a wave of living, clicking shells. It must be a swarm of several hundred of the light brown or colorless insects.

  • Trample them
  • Retreat
  • Scare them with torches

#TheSpiderPit – part 81 – *Pest*

Their blades and hammers useless, the adventurers fall back and wave their torches at the oncoming pests. That works – the little crawlers change course and move sideways when the firebrands get too close to them. It is still difficult to keep them away with only three torches – Sybil and Adelaide get bitten and cry out because the bugs’ mandibles cut through their skin with ease. The group retreats up onto the fountain’s base where they hold onto anything that presents itself and eke out a tiny safe space between their firebrands.

Except Ursula. She dares a jump across the first wave of bugs and slams her fists against the moving tiles to undo her earlier opening it. Ursula’s foot briefly touches down at a spot with few beetles and crushes two, then she quickly jumps off again before the other critters can orient themselves, leaping from spot to spot, while behind her the stone door reacts to her boxing the tiles.

Her gambit – and her roofrunning skills – pay off. She narrowly makes it through the horde of bugs and out on the other side. Only a handful of the crawlers cling to her boot trying to gnaw through the tough leather, and she quickly brushes them off with her naked blade so they tumble into their oncoming brethren. The heavy stone door heaves and turns and shuts with irresistable force, crushing a multitude of bugs to powder as they climb up the stairs eager to pursue freedom.

To the shocked girls in the corner who have risen and now stand there staring, Ursula shouts: “Up! Up with you and out through the door! Go, go, go!” before she rushes out herself. Six girls flee after Ursula to get into the entrance room. The last of them, Iulia, gets caught by the wave of insects, and their little mandibles bite her horribly so she cries out in pain, but her friend Pipita is there to help her brush the tiny beasts off and stomp them to dust. Pipita herself manages to avoid the multi-legged plague. Ursula grabs one of the torches and defends the corridor from the crawling menace.

Slowly, bit by bit, the insects drift toward the exit in the western wall, where they scuttle outside to disappear into the fresh night. “I hope they don’t crawl to Woodbridge!” says Oswald. A couple of stragglers still wanders around here and there in the hall, and the adventurers and freed slaves reduce them to shards and pulp with a couple of decisive boot stomps.

Of the earlier dust coating of the floor, little remains. Crawling beetles and stomping humans have left lots of footprints and tiny broken bodies.

“Okay,” says Reinhold. “New plan. We fetch some firewood, light it up, and open the door again behind a good, hot fire.”

“And then?” asks Harmony. “Do we burn our way down all the steps until we find the big queen mother bug?”

“I don’t think there are many more. What would they eat? Each other? I am sure this was the worst of it.”

Phoebe reluctantly agrees. “I think it was wearing off already. If we open again the rest will come out.”

Harmony wants that door closed, and Ursula agrees: “That was too close by half.”

Phoebe and Reinhold want to give it another go: “The fire held them off fine.”

  • Open again, with fire
  • Leave it be

#TheSpiderPit – part 82 – *Uko’s tale*

The adventurers discuss the merits of exploring versus safe re-supply as well as leaving clear burn marks and soot on the door versus keeping the entrance secret for now. The can’t agree, and even asking the freed slaves doesn’t get them anywhere – some agree with checking the secret door out, others just want home, others yet have no opinion.

As they discuss, the great stone door in the entrance room grinds open. They freeze, ready for anything — but it is only Uko who appears in the corridor.

The bearded goblin happily waves to them all and fist-bumps, then hugs Harmony.

“Wow, guys, you won’t believe it. We threw some sticks into the big chief’s barony’s wheels. The feasting hall is cursed and they can’t get that twilight out of it. Also their idol was smashed and the priest slain, so they are not sure if it is some kind of punishment. The breeders are all dead, and they were the main treat to keep the warriors in line, so now they are starting to break apart along tribal lines. I’d say give it two more days and they have total anarchy here – until the next warlord rolls in and takes over.”

“How did you get away?”

“Some guys came over and told us all that and also about,” he makes air-quotes, “dangerous human intruders. Rog woke up the off-duty snipers to tell them, so now they are three anyway and I could go. But they are all nervous. And the big chief promised a chest full of gold for the first warrior to bring him a couple of human heads in a sack to feed to his pet spiders.

What were you up to?”

“We were almost eaten by pet bugs! There’s a secret door here in the wall, but when we opened it some thousand little crawlers came out and they bite like crazy. Ursula got the door closed and now we don’t know if we should try again with lots of firebrands or if we should get the girls home first.”

Reinhold leans forward. “A chest full of gold? Any word where he has that?”

Uko laughs: “Yes indeed, I asked. He is said to have several of those up in his lair, up the stairs from where we got into the breeder’s den. He has a special guard, though, crack fighters from his own clan back east.”

“We could get back through the feasting hall,” Reinhold suggests. “They will never again be as weak as now.”

“Oh, yes, great idea! Let’s just cross the bridge in front of the snipers!” Phoebe mocks. “No way. We better kill the bugs and check out those stairs.”

“We should rest first. My magic spell is spent,” Harmony reminds.

“We should think of Wendy and the girls,” Ursula says, “and get them home.”

  • Return to find chief’s gold
  • Open secret door
  • Make camp and rest
  • Leave dungeon, return home

 

 

#TheSpiderPit – part 83 – *Promises*

After some debate they finally, and in some cases reluctantly, agree that they have to be responsible here. They quickly make the secret door as secret as before. That is hard, because now that it has been open it is much more visible – or at least it appears so to those who know it’s location. Either way, they sweep the room more or less clear of bug-corpses and dust and throw all the refuse into the trap door – then they close it.

Phoebe and Ursula go out first. The space in front of the hollow tree is free, under a clear night sky full of stars. They quickly spread out and let the freed slaves breath fresh air. For some of them it is the first time in a long, long while. Pipita, Rashel, and Iulia stroke the grass and cry in silent joy. Dorrit even lays down to hug the bare earth. The adventurers are a bit taken aback, but they leave them a moment. Finally the women get up and hug the adventurers.

“Thank you. Thank you for coming for us. We thought we were forgotten.”

The rescuers exchange uneasy glances. No reason to tell them that Wendy was the only one who got anyone sent after her.

Finally they turn west in order to get to the cliff, when Mrag the Crimson appears between the trees. It doesn’t take much to see that they have no goblin woman with them.

“Looks like you you didn’t bring me a breeder after all,” he remarks.

  • Attack him.
  • Tell him to get lost.
  • Apologize.
  • Offer him one of the human women.

#TheSpiderPit – part 84 – *An open bill*

The group hesitates. Harmony and Uko look down at their feet. Reinhold steps forward. “Man…” he says with a dejected look. “…. things did not go as we thought they would. There was a fire. I am afraid the breeders went somewhere in the back to hide, and they did not get out. I am … we are sorry. I believe the breeders are gone.”

Mrag sighs. “I see. How did the fire start?”

“We were in a fight. In the scuffle, a lamp shattered and one of the curtains in the breeder’s den caught fire.”

“Well … you tried.” Mrag shrugs. “Ha! Either way, I think it is amazing that you even made it into that place, and out again!”

He steps forward and hits Reinhold’s shoulder.

The magic skulls springs to life. “I wish I could get him a breeder,” thinks Reinhold.

“They are alright for humans,” thinks Mrag, “hell, they would even make formidable goblins.”

Mrag offers a warning: “There was a bowman. He went to the northwest to hunt, so keep more southerly to avoid him.”

“What are you going to do now?”

“Me? The cook you met – he and I, we are fed up with this shithole here. We’re going back east.”

With some shoulder-clapping and fist-bumping, they part as friends.

The group avoids the deer-paths and steers southwest along a shallow ravine to avoid the sniper. Quite soon they break out of the woods and reach the cliff. Below them a sea of small lights indicates Woodbridge. Signal fires mark the most poetically named “Left Tower” and “Right Tower”, important navigating points for the ships.

Slowly and carefully they follow the cliff towards home.

After a while, Oswald starts to glance towards the woods more and more often. Finally Reinhold stops them.

“We are close to where that monster got Mortimer. I think those spears here …” he indicates the tough arms the freed slaves carry “… they should give it something to think about. I’d say, let’s kick that centipede’s arse. Who’s game?”

Oswald is conflicted, given their fresh hostilities, but he steps forward. “Yeah. Let us kill it.”

Ursula and Harmony are worried. “I don’t know, Reinhold,” Ursula says. “Nighttime is centipede time. And Mortimer’s arrows didn’t even scratch it.”

Phoebe argues for returning home, and for hunting centipede panthers another time.

“I know Mortimer was a friend of yours. But this is not the time.”

“He was our friend, and he would have been yours if not for that beast. The seven of us – we can take it down.”

“You did not think so when we met it the first time.”

“I was not prepared. Now we are.”

  • Go hunt the centipede panther.
  • Go home to the Inn.

#TheSpiderPit – part 85 – *Triumph and Aftermath*

It is quickly established that at this point in time only Reinhold and Oswald are keen on revenge on the centipede panther. Yet, two humans are no match for this beast, as the first encounter proved. So they grudgingly accept the verdict of the group and come along, down the hills, out of the woods, and back to the Cunning Cock.

It is late as they appear, but the hounds bark and wake the adventurers sleeping in the common room. It is a heroes’ welcome that awaits the group. The Inn’s lights are rekindled, the adventurers gather, and the tired party must recount their tale, while the freed slaves are treated with a free broth and the innkeeper’s own room to sleep while he prepares a bedding for himself behind his counter.

The audience cheers with the successes in the story, groans with the setbacks, tries the magic skull, and one thing is for sure: The seven have made names for themselves.

– + – + – + –

  • Balthazar de Vere is reunited with his beloved Wendy and pays the heroes for the rescue. Every surviving member of the team is rewarded with 53 gold coins and seven silver pieces.
  • The other survivors are rejoined with their families,
  • except Iulia, who has no one in the world, but she is a serving wench by trade, is offered a station at the Cunning Cock, and graciously accepts.
  • Reinhold offers the magic skull to the Count – it is thoroughly tested, Reinhold has to explain in detail where it came from, and his own mind is probed as a further test of the skull’s powers. He is finally informed that, while by rights this skull belonged to the Magicians’ Guild and neither the Count nor the Guild owed him anything for it’s safe return, the Count, purely out of the goodness of his heart, deems it fit to reimburse him for his troubles with an amount of no less than 40 gold pieces.
    Reinhold is not the smartest man, but he is smart enough to accept amid clearly audible praises for the Count’s great wisdom and kindness.
  • Oswald and Ursula, both now keenly aware of Reinhold’s innermost thoughts about them, ask Phoebe’s group to accept them as members of her team. The team is happy to embrace them.
  • Reinhold remains a solo hero, although it is agreed that he has every right to be part of the expedition if they should ever decide to explore the secret door in the hall of Mu – a door which shall remain a secret among this group and the rescued women.

The great success of the mission warrants 3 character points for every one of the adventurers, so they all reach level 2, gain 2 health points and can raise one of their attribute scores.

After a long rest, a new spell comes to Harmony’s mind, namely “Blinding Glass”.

As to the big chief, after the feasting hall sank into Endless Twilight, his authority is quickly questioned. He disappears along with his gold and his most loyal retainers, and soon another tribe takes over the dungeon, dreaming, like those before them, of carving out a new goblin empire, of pushing the hoomans into the sea and of reclaiming dominion over the sacred lands of their ancestors.

*THE END.*

_Thank you all for playing!_

#Insights & #Summary

What I learned during the play-by-poll game #TheSpiderPit

The game ran for 85 episodes, starting with a handful of players who mostly dropped out after about a month, to be replaced by new players who stayed longer. Between parts 10 and 60, participation levels ran usually somewhere between 9 and 11. (Mathematically: 10.209), later they ran between 9 and 15.

There was a small core of fewer than 10, in later episodes about 12 regular players plus a couple of off- and on-participants.

Participants reacted well to polls; they did not usually discuss their votes or add comments. In case of one post where the outcome was to be freely determined by comments alone, there was no input.

In more risky situations, there were often slightly fewer votes.

After shorter narrations, there were slightly more votes.

One entry (the second major combat) was REALLY long, and consequently earned a 60% drop in participation.

The highest turnout was right before and right after the first major combat.

The majority of votes came in in the first four to eight hours after a post. Only in some special cases did a result change after that mark. After the first 12 to 16 hours, a vote was usually over.

The time of day had no discernable effect on voter turnout.

Polls had two to five answer slots. Rule of thumb: The fewer options, the clearer the result, up to 10:1 and more.

Results tended toward nonviolence until the mission objective was found (stealth phase). There were two to three players who generally favored action, like combat or breaking open doors, but a stable majority opted for sneaking, investigating & collecting information, talking, and tricking. This was probably wise, because the characters were no “tanks”.

Another wise player decision was insisting on a bigger group. I had presented two adventuring groups, but the voters wanted both of them. That lead to more logistical effort, keeping all the various people and their personalities in mind, but it also lead to more talent in the mix, as both groups brought valuable skills and more options to the table.

Casualties were surprisingly low, in part due to lucky rolls, in a larger part due to consistent, sensible decision-making on behalf of the players.

Personally, I started to draw the pictures out of necessity, because for some of the scenes there just were no photos to be found and I was worried about legal rights for portraits. But as the adventure progressed, I started to look forward to drawing the next scene and had as much fun drawing as I had continuing the story.

Over the course of the adventure I lost about 18 followers and gained about 9. (approximations because I only thought to record the effect after we were fifteen parts in)

Approximately five people decided to follow only the collection, not me. Approximately five other followers decided to unfollow just the collection and keep my other posts.

Great experience!

Thanks to all who followed this mission and led it to such a successful close.

Maze Rats Play by Poll – The Spider Pit

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