The siege of Ostenhofen pt4

A Savage Worlds Warhammer ~~Fantasy Battles~~ mashup.

Brief Summary: In the previous part, a run in with the Bailiff had the party fleeing the inner city of Ostenhofen through the sewers in an attempt to escape. They managed to kill a handful of giant spiders and now have to pass through the thick webs before they can proceed.

Evie thinks about their options. “Let’s keep to the walls as much as possible and cut through the webs with our blades.”

Q: How many webs until the other side?
A: 1d6 (exploding): 3
Rudiger: 6/7: No damage
Bianka: 6/7: No damage
Evie: 5/7: No damage
Gustav: 12/7: 2 Webs cut
Q: Is the web on the floor removed? (Likely)
A: No
Next Round
Rudiger: 15/7: 3 Webs cut
Q: Is the web on the floor removed? (Very Likely)
A: Yes
Q: Is there floor underneath (or a gap)?
A: False Presupposition. Even though the web on the floor was cut, there’s even more webbing underneath, like a second layer, older, stronger. Maybe from another kind of spiders?
Q: Is there another spider (gigantic) alerted to the presence of the party?
A: Yes, but, it won’t reach the room in time. Instead, I will replace one of my entries in the encounters table with this gigantic spider.

The party starts hacking at the strong webs. They’re thick like vines, but eventually they are cut through. Only a small amount remains until they reach the opening in the other side of the room, and Rudiger, with extra effort, cuts through them like butter. His blade cutting through to the floor, where it doesn’t hit stone. Maybe Bianka was right and there’s a gap underneath. They all look at each other. Afraid that they might fall, but the webs hold, so they finally get moving on.

Torch die: 5. Resource die remains at d8.

Dungeon: 10 ♥️. Fork in the path.
Torch die: 5. Resource die remains at d8.

Dungeon: 8 ♠️. Dead end.
Torch die: 2: Resource expended. Die downgraded to d6.
Turn back and follow the other fork.

Dungeon: 2 ♣️. Obstacle.
Q: Is it a barred entrance?
A: Yes. This is the part of the sewers of the inner city that most likely connects to the outer city. It’s closed by metal bars. If the party can manage to overcome the obstacle, then, they can move on.
To pry the bars open wide enough for them to pass, a Strength trait roll at -4 is required. Each attempt will require an additional Strength trait roll at -1 per attempt beyond the first, or accrue a level of fatigue.
Rudiger attempts first: Strength (d8-4): 3: Failure. Benny: 0, Benny: 0, Benny: 0. Failure.
Rudiger fatigue check: Strength (d8): Snake Eyes. Crap, I already spent all the bennies. He pulls a strain and gains two fatigue levels.
Rudiger attempts again: Strength (d8-5): 1. Failure.
Rudiger fatigue check: Strength (d8-2): 3. Failure. 3 Fatigue levels. He can’t attempt again for 24 hours.
Gustav has the scavenger edge. He uses it to say that he carries with him a crowbar that will give him a +2 at his attempts.
Gustav attempts to pry the bars open: Strength (d6-2): 3: Failure. Benny: 1, Benny: 9: Success with a Raise. Finally!
I managed to get through, but at what a cost! Rudiger now has a -3 to all trait rolls until fully rested.
Torch die: 4: Resource die remains at d6.

The party continues their path down the sewers, to a fork. They choose the left path which eventually leads to a dead end. Their torches are burning fast, and they are afraid they might be left in the dark soon. They retrace their steps only to come across a heavy set of bars running dug deep in the stone.
“I guess that’s it. We must turn back.” Says Evie disheartened.
“No!” Bianka disagrees. “This must be the borderline between the two parts of the city. If we pass, then any sewer exit we reach above ground should lead us to the outer part of Ostenhofen.”
“Then I’ll do my best!” Rudiger rushes in against the bars and uses all his might trying to get them wide. In spite of his best efforts, he can’t budge them, and eventually he sprains his shoulder.
Gustav finds the opportunity to show off to this master, lady Evie. He presents a crowbar from his belongings, and rests it against a gap in the stone. A few budges later, and a man-sized opening is enough to get them through.

Dungeon: 4 ♠️. Dead end.
Torch die: 1: Resource expended: Die downgraded to d4.

Not a few steps further, they come across a thick walls. Now, they have nowhere else to go. Their attempt to escape has failed. To top it off, they are to their last few torches. They could be left blind in darkness any time soon.

Now, things are looking dire. I doubt they can retrace their steps back in time. So, I’m going to have Gustav try to break down this wall, by removing the stone bricks with his crowbar, just in case the passage moves on a ahead and it was blocked for security reasons. This will take a whole lot of time though, and they will have to roll on the Torch die.

Gustav: Strength (d6): 4: Success. Bricks removed for opening.
Q: Is there a way through?
A: Yes, but the gigantic creature has caught up to them.
Torch die: 3: Resource die remains at d4.

This is a fail forward by choice. I am giving the party a chance to move on against the dungeon deck rules, but I support it by an Oracle question to keep an amount of fairness, and an additional obstacle by bringing in the Gigantic Spider against them.
For the stats of this creature, I will use the Giant spider stats upgraded by one die (and thus Parry and Toughness by +1), and give it a Wild Card status (3 Wounds and Wild Die).

“Not again!” Evie shouts in despair and puts her head down.
“Worry not, maybe it’s just another block on our way out.” Gustav motivates her, and starts hitting the mortar of the wall with his crowbar. The sound of metal on stone echoes through sewers. Soon, a small opening appears that can be further enlarged by hand.
Before the party manages to move on, they hear again the distinct clicking sound of the giant spiders they met before. The torch light illuminates a creature thrice the size of its brethren that they slew before. Without further warning it launches itself forward.

Round 1:
Initiative: B: 9♥️, E: Q♣️, G: 8♠️, R: Q♥️
Spider: 5♠️

Rudiger charges at the creature: Fighting (d12-3): 7/7: Hit: 19/6: 3 Wounds!
Spider: Benny: Soak (d12): 5: Success. 1 Wound removed.
Evie attacks: Fighting (d8+1): 4: Miss
Bianka attacks: Fighting (d8+2): Snake Eyes. Benny: 7/7: Hit: 4: No damage.
Gustav attacks: Fighting (d6+3): 8/7: Hit: 6/6: Shaken.
Spider: Spends Benny to remove Shaken. Attacks {1-3 Rudiger, 4 Evie, 5 Bianka, 6 Gustav}: Evie: Fighting (d10-2): 7/6: Hit: 8/6: Shaken

Round 2:
Initiative: B: 8♣️, E: 3♠️, G: 2♠️, R: 5♥️
Spider: 3♥️

Bianka attacks: Fighting (d8+3): 9/7: Hit: 16/6: 2 Wounds!
Spider: Benny: Soak (d12-2): 2: Fail. Dead.

Rudiger lets of a war cry, and despite his sprain, he makes a quick slash at the creature’s enormous head, cutting off a few of its eyes. It makes what could be described as an unnerving scream. Evie, Biank and Gustav gang up on it form the sides, and the servant manages some scratches at the spider’s side. Despite its wounds, it lashes back, slashing at Evie who is pinned down by its mandibles.
Bianka doubles back on her attack, and her digs her hatchet deep between its head and its thorax, from below, almost decapitating the arthropod.
“Do you think they come in even bigger sizes?” Rudiger asks Bianka.
She scoffs. “Whatever size. I can handle them.”
Realizing the danger these sewers pose to trespassers, they decide not to waste any more time, and open up the passage and move onward.

Dungeon: 6♦️. Regular Path.
Torch die: 4. Resource die remains d4.

Dungeon: Q♦️. Regular Path. Encounter: Giant rat!
I will give them the stats for regular wolves.
Q: How many?
A: 1d6+2: 5

Bianka: Notice (d8+2): 5: Success. She can warn the party in time for them to draw weapons.
Giant Rats: Notice (d10): 9: Success with Raise. They get the chance to position themselves against the group.

As the party walks through the tight corridors, suddenly Bianka stops. “Rats!” She whispers and draws her hatchet. A split second of time later, the snout of a rat appears from the opening next to them, in their middle. Two more come from the front and two more come from the rear. They are surrounded. And yet it’s not the regular sized rats they are accustomed to. These things are large like dogs, and they see the party as a tasty snack.

Round 1:
Initiative: B: 7♣️, E: 7♠️, G: Q♠️, R: K♠️
Giant Rats: 2♦️
Rudiger attacks the Rat in the middle. Rudiger: Fighting (d12-2): 6/5: Hit: 10/4: Wounded. It’s out.
Gustav attacks one Rat in the rear. Gustav: Fighting (d6): 4/5: Miss
Evie can’t find room to attack.
Bianka attacks one Rat in the front. Bianka: Fighting (d8): 11: Hit with Raise: 11/4: Wounded. It’s out.
Two rats are dead. I’ll have them make a Spirit roll as a group (with Wild die) at -1 to see if they will stay.
Giant Rats: Spirit (d6-1): 4: Success. They stay and attack.
GR1 attacks Bianka: Fighting (d6): 2/6: Miss
GR4 attacks Gustav: Fighting (d6+1): 6/5: Hit: 3/5: No damage.
GR5 attacks Gustav: Fighting (d6+1): 3/5: Miss.

Round 2:
Initiative: B: 6♥️, E: Joker, G: A♥️, R: 9♦️
Giant Rats: 8♦️
Gustav moves back to allow Rudiger to handle the rats.
Rudiger attacks one Rat in the Rear. Rudiger: Fighting (d12-3): 3/5: Miss
GR1 attacks Bianka: Fighting (d6): 4/6: Miss
GR4 attacks Rudiger: Fighting (d6+1): 4/8: Miss
GR5 attacks Rudiger: Fighting (d6+1): 2/8: Miss
Bianka attacks GR1. Fighting (d8): 6/5: Hit: 8/4: Wouned. It’s out.
Evie can’t find room to attack.

Round 3:
Initiative: B: 6♦️, E: J♦️, G: 4♦️, R: 5♣️
Giant Rats: Q♦️
Giant Rats Spirit roll at -2.
Giant Rats: Spirit (d6-2): 7: Success. They stay and attack.
GR4 attacks Rudiger: Fighting (d6+1): 5/8: Miss
GR5 attacks Rudiger: Fighting (d6+1): 4/8: Miss
Rudiger attacks GR4. Fighting (d12-3): 2: Miss

Round 4:
Initiative: B: J♥️, E: 7♦️, G: 4♣️, R: 9♥️
Giant Rats: Q♣️
GR4 attacks Rudiger: Fighting (d6+1): 3/8: Miss
GR5 attacks Rudiger: Fighting (d6+1): 3/8: Miss
Rudiger wild attacks GR4. Fighting (d12-1): 9/5: Hit with Raise: 19/4: 3 Wounds. It’s dead.

Round 5:
Initiative: B: 10♣️, E: 6♠️, G: 8♠️, R: 6♣️
Giant Rats: Q♥️
Giant Rat Spirit roll at -3. It’s no longer a group so it doesn’t have a wild die.
GR5: Spirit (d6-3): 0: Fail. It flees. It’s subject to an attack of opportunity.
Rudiger: Fighting (d12-3): 31/5: Hit with Raise: 23/4: 4 Wounds. It’s dead.

Rudiger slams his shield against the giant rodent in the middle of the group, and as he has it immobilized, he guts it open with his blade.
Bianka faces two of the creatures in the front, and buries her hatchet deep in their skull.
Gustav in the rear is scared to put himself in danger and manages to do nothing more than keep the rats at bay.
Bianka kills the second rat, while Rudiger exchanges places with Gustav. The tight corridor space doesn’t allow much room for maneuver, which helps Rudiger to protect his legs with his shield, while evisecrating another rat. As the last rat turns to flee, he finds the opportunity to make another strike, and he cleaves it in half.
“Hey, Rat Catcher!” Evie calls out to Bianka. “How much are these worth to you?”
Bianka smiles under the torch light. “Quite a lot actually.” She answers merrily and cuts off the tails as proof of the kill.

Torch die: 1. Benny (Gustav): 4. Resource die remains d4.

Dungeon: K♥️. Fork in the Path. Encounter: 6 Swarm.

The group reaches an opening with a ladder going up and down. They decide to go up in the hope that it will get them closer to the surface. It’s not long that they’re still on the ladder that they hear hundreds of tiny squeaks.
“More rats!” Bianka barely manages to gasp, and hundreds of the little creatures move on them, biting and chewing. Everyone tries to kill as many of the creatures as they can, but the small targets, the tight spot and the climbing ladder situation makes everything so much harder.

Round 1:
Initiative: B: A♠️, E: Joker, G: 5♠️, R: A♦️
Swarm: 7♣️
Evie attacks with her short sword. Fighting (d8): 12/6: Hit with Raise: 6/7: No damage.
Bianka attacks with her hatchet. Fighting (d8): Snake Eyes: Benny: 7/6: Hit: 2/7: No damage.
Rudiger attacks with his long sword. Fighting (d12-3): 6/6: Hit: 9/7: Shaken.
Gustav attacks with his hatchet. Fighting (d6): 11/6: Hit with Raise: 7. Shaken. It’s Wounded.

The group flails wildly their weapons at the rats, and they manage to kill more than a few. Their screams and kills, disperse the swarm of rats that scurries off further down the path.

Torch die: 1. Benny (Bianka): 4. Resource die remains d4.

Dungeon: 9♥️. Fork in the Path.
Torch die: 1. Benny (Evie): 3. Resource die remains d4.

Dungeon: K♦️. Regular Path. Encounter.
I’m starting to get frustrated about getting out of the sewer maze.
This starts feeling less like a solo rpg with narrative, and more like an old text CRPG from the 80s. So I will start spicing things up a bit from this point on. For every ‘regular path’ result, I will be asking ‘Is everything as expected’ to the oracle. Also for every encounter, I will start asking if they meet up orcs, beginning with very unlikely and going up to very likely. Since the orcs may looking for ways to enter the city.
Q: Is everything as expected?
A: No, And, Roll 1d10 on TWENE.
TWENE: 8: Remove Major Element.
The major element is the sewers. The sewers end. I am thinking that they give way to a natural cave system. Maybe there is an underground river.
Q: Do the sewers give way to caves?
A: Yes, and its a natural cave system with an underground river coming in, joining the sewage water and moving deeper in the ground.
Now on to the encounter.
Q: Is the encounter orcs? (Very unlikely)
A: No
So now I need to redefine the encounters table. Natural caves could have anything. Also, depending on what they encounter, there is going to be a hint of how far the exit would be. A bear for example wouldn’t be as far deep in the caves as a giant centipede.
Since designing an encounter table from scratch now is going to take a lot of time, I’m going to use the monsters deck from an old rpg board game called Dragon’s Quest (R) by TSR. I’ll sort it out and only keep possible monsters. Also I will split it into two decks. Likely and Unlikely encounters. I will put orcs and goblins in the unlikely encounters.
Q: Is the encounter from the likely deck? (Likely)
A: No
So, it’s from the Unlikely deck.
It’s skeletons. This changes things even further. Maybe this is an underground cemetery? A part of the old Ostenhofen city that was buried after a landslide or an earthquake? Who knows.
Q: Are there tombs and graves? (Likely)
A: No, and there is nothing to point to a cemetery. Maybe an ancient battlefield of sorts where the dead lay restless.
Q: How many skeletons?
A: 1d6+2: 4.
Q: Are they armed?
A: No, but one of them is. It wields a battle axe.
Intervention: 6: Wild!
I’ll look to GMA cards for inspiration.
Beguile Ancient Magic.
I’m quite excited for this turn of events. I suppose that this cave is might be the lair of a necromancer who died doing a ritual (the specifics of the ritual are unknown as of yet). His corpse awaits awakening. His animated servants are waiting patiently for year to spill human blood back on his corpse to have him rise again and turn into a lich. It will take 3 turns from the first blood, for the lich to rise and each wound suffered afterwards will reduce the time by one turn.
Now we have a lot of questions and almost no narrative. So let’s put all this into story.

The cleanly cut brick floor of the sewers slowly stops, and gives in its place to dirt and rough stone. The loud sound of running water brings in a fresh air, a nice change from the stink of the sewers.
“At last! Clean water!” Evie says and splashes water on her face, cleans her hands and boots. The rest of the party follow her example.
Refreshed, they spend some time to observe their surroundings.
“Let’s follow the river upstream. It has to lead us to the surface.” Bianka proposes.
“Smart.” Rudiger agrees, and they all move on with renewed vigor.
The path slowly widens, and the river is to their right side. They reach an underground plateau. Tree roots hang from the ceiling, and a few withered tree trunks sparsely populate the scene.

Rudiger recovers a level of fatigue.
Bianka: Notice (d8): 7: Success.

Bianka notices in middle of the plateau some markings under the dirt, and the remains of what seems to be a man-sized figure.
The are spread thin, looking around, when she feels a tug on her boots, and she sees a skeleton hand grabbing her. She looks in awe as a complete skeleton digs its way out of the ground and claws up. It’s mouth open, as if screaming in silence. She’s not alone. Three more skeletons claw out of the ground and attack her companions.

Fear check for each party member.
Bianka: Spirit (d4): 3: Fail. Shaken. Vigor (d6): 5: Success.
Evie: Spirit (d8): 3: Fail. Shaken. Vigor (d6): 4: Success.
Gustav: Spirit (d4): 6: Success.
Rudiger: Spirit (d6-2): 6: Success. Fright: 10: Panicked. He immediately moves 6″ away and is Shaken.

Round 1:
Initiative: B: 7♣️, E: 3♣️, G: 7♠️, R: 7♥️
Skeletons: 3♦️

Gustav draws his hatchet and attacks the skeleton next to him.
Gustav: Fighting (d6-2): 2/5: Miss
Bianka: Spirit (d4): 9: Success with a Raise. She acts this round. She draws her hatchet and attacks the skeleton that grabbed her.
Bianka: Fighting (d8-2): 5/5: Hit: 13/7: Wounded. It’s out.
Rudiger: Spirit (d6-2): 8: Success with a Raise. He acts this round. He draws his sword and charges back at the skeleton behind him.
Rudiger: Fighting (d12-2): 21/5: Hit with a Raise: 17/7: Wounded. It’s out.
Before attacking I need to ask which skeleton carries the battleaxe. 1d4: 1 Bianka’s which is dead.
Skeleton 2 attacks Evie: Fighting (d6): 3/5: Miss
Skeleton 3 attacks Gustav: Fighting (d6): 8/5: Hit: 4/5: No damage.
Evie: Spirit (d8): 7: Success. She can act next round.

Bianka and Evie freeze with fear, but Bianka quickly overcomes herself and hacks at the skeleton in front of her with her hatchet, smashing its skull in two.
Gustav tries to fight back, but his lack of combat skills show.
Unexpected to all, Rudiger has had it. The fear is overwhelming and he runs off. The thought of being called out a coward overcomes him and he gets a grip of himself. He unsheathes his sword, and turns around and slashes at the skeleton that is after him, cutting it in half.
The two remaining skeletons, try to hurt Evie and Gustav, but fail to do any harm.

Round 2:
Initiative: B: Q♠️, E: 9H, G: Q♣️, R: 8♦️
Skeletons: 10♣️

Bianka moves and attacks S2: Fighting (d8): 17/5: Hit with Raise: 16/7: Wounded. It’s out.
Gustav moves and attacks S3: Fighting (d6): 4/5: Miss
Skeleton 3 attacks Gustav (Wild Attack): 3: Benny: 7: Hit: 8/5: Shaken.
Evie draws her short sword, moves and attacks S3: Fighting (d8-1): 4/3: Hit: 8/7: Shaken
Rudiger moves and attacks S3: Fighting (d12-1): 3/3: Hit: 13/7: Wounded. It’s out.

Bianka moves to Evie who has just come to her senses, ducks and crushes the skeleton at it’s thighbone, shattering it to pieces.
The last skeleton claws at Gustav, scratching him, droplets of blood, falling on the floor.
The team gangs up on the last skeleton, and Rudiger finishes it off with an assist from Evie.

Considering that the party hasn’t faced undead before. I highly doubt that they realize there is any danger from the corpse in the middle.
Q: Does the party realize the necromancer will raise back as a Lich? (Very Unlikely)
A: Yes!
Wow didn’t expect this.
But, reading through the Lich in the Bestiary, I see that he is surrounded by 4d10 skeletons. So I suppose they were inactive, and now they rise.
Q: How many skeletons?
A: 4d10-4: 20 more skeletons.

“The dead shouldn’t be walking anymore. What is this sorcery?” Rudiger sais with fear.
“I’ve heard tales.” Evie says. “I thought they were stories to keep the children in at night.”
“What is the corpse in the middle? Something evil or a sacrifice?” Bianka asks, but her answer is given to her as she sees the body twitch.
The torchlight illuminates the ground that starts to collapse slowly as a score of skeletons rises back up and joins their undead brethren. The company looks at each other, and slowly they pace backwards, and stand in the middle, their weapons facing out, their backs covering each other. The clacking of bones charging at them is all they hear.

I’m stopping here since I’ve went a lot ahead without any pause. If they stand a chance against the Lich, they need their Bennies refreshed.

Session Background: This was a full dungeon crawl session. Since it’s the second session in a row without any wargaming, I strikedthrough the “Fantasy Battles” from the intro. With dungeon crawling, again the main problem I had, was that the party wasn’t equipped for such an endeavor. This was like the Ruins of Syriholm all over again. Resources slowly dwindling and no magic to keep this balanced, since I have a weird affinity towards low-fantasy settings. With this in mind, I did what I had to do with the tools at hand. I used the narrative and the oracle to help twist the story. Something I’ve learned early on is the importance of fail forward as part of the narrative in solo rpgs.
Yes, I could have the party keep going on, until no more torches were available. And lost, in total darkness eventually they would fall prey to whatever lurks in the sewers. Or they might never find the way out. Where’s the fun in that?
Instead, I gave them a way forward, but at a cost. Rudiger is fatigued, a giant spider almost had them for lunch (they had some lucky rolls against it), and now a Lich is about to rise from the dead.
Asking the oracle if there is something different, unexpected, or simply if there is a way out is a perfectly valid tactic for me. But I want to make it fair. The same way that it’s no fun for me to have the party die in an uneventful boring manner, the same way it’s no fun to have everything easy, served on a platter.
Now my protagonists are in a tough spot. Will they try to fight the Lich, or will they use the few seconds they have available to run off and escape? What will this mean for the Ostenhofeners? Will an undead army rise to change the balance of power in the siege?