Lankhmar 1.07: The Disturbed Duke, part two: We Love Sewers!

The characters for this session (all sitting on plenty of AP itching to spend it):

Rogar, a mariner [L2 Warrior, sword and shield]

Snorri, a northern barbarian [L1 Warrior, axe and shield]

Dokrah, a Keshite [L1 Rogue, talent = locks & traps]

Pras, a freeman scribe [L1 Rogue, talent = fraud]

When we left our crypt crawlers (part one) Rogar was about to slither down into the bowels of an abattoir’s slop-chute, and the four needed to compare options for methods of breaking into Duke Danius’ compound, and select one to pitch to their client, Avish, the Duke’s son.

Rogar reports that the chute leads only to an oubliette. Then heads off to a bath draw for him by the missus of the group’s host, a northern barbarian and ex-hearthguard who along with his five fellows has taken over the mansion of their deceased master Gen-Gen.

 

Options for the taking

Pending more research the option of digging a tunnel from the mansion is attractive but difficult. More tunnels must lie betwixt, and Pras (or more correctly Lee-Na his researcher) can probably locate them.

Dokrah reports on his surveillance. As noted last time, while there are definitely gaps in the watch the task of quickly and quietly escalading is a tough one.

Another idea is to stage a distraction or decoy, infiltrate openly with the barbarians as hirelings, and go from there. A variant on that is to sneak in unsuspected – the old “hidden in the laundry” but in reverse.

A fourth option, as Pras notes, is to take the money paid thus far and fade away.

A straw poll, or single-transferable-vote, reveals the tunnel plan as the highest preference – pending more information!

 

Sewers are go!

It’s time to get that extra research! Pras rushes, sarong flapping at his ankles, to the Great Library and pays a fat bonus for intense and immediate research. Lee-Na has a stroke of luck or brilliance [the GM does not show his dice but DAROs four times] and describes a nearby main sewer, which connects to a foul inflow from the Great Swamp, which will put the party directly below the basement level Lee-Na has already sketched out!

The next “meet” with the client is already lined up – hence the urgency – and at the Golden Lamprey, Pras as spokesman pitches the idea. He adds that the “digging up” element will work a lot better if Avish can employ a mage with the ability to scry beyond rock and earth…

Avish agrees – though the attack is not locked in until the next “ready” meeting – and hands over the agreed thousand and repays expenses so far.

 

Divide the tasks and rule them!

Snorri buys mead and heads back to the mansion. After a few drinks have been shared the chief is happy to agree the four can use the mansion as base, and the northerners will hire on as workmen and guards. His missus is also OK with the four staying. There’s a lot of junk to be cleared out…

Dokrah takes a fat money pouch to an upmarket toolsmiths street and buys a half-dozen of this and that, such as picks, shovels, buckets, pry bars, rope and so on. The art of haggle is not in Dokrah and the merchant is very happy. [Rolls a fail, incurring a surcharge “Oh that’s right, I had forgotten that amount…”] A barrow of gear soon heads towards the mansion…

Pras and Rogar, who was a mariner, head to the south docks to procure baulks of timber for the tunnel. Rogar finds a man who understands timber and Pras explains the “no questions asked and a bonus for speed” aspect. Rogar is convincing [L1 CHR SR, makes L6] and the sturdy ship timber is soon on its way to the mansion…

Later, in the basement after sleep has refreshed everyone, Pras looks through junk that the others sorted into piles looking for poisons or acids. He finds that one of the many scrolls appears to be a Vorpal Blade spell [L3 LK SR, fails by three, opts for ‘fail forward’] and tucks it away. All he needs is to spend 550AP and his DEX will be high enough to cast it!

 

Breakthrough

The work gangs prepare: gear is piled in. Then the northerners, ably assisted by Snorri Rogar and Pras [the latter proving surprisingly sturdy with a L3 STR SR] pry away the bricks on the west basement wall and tunnel westward. After some five yards, brick is struck. This is the sewer sidewall. Blocks are chipped out and pried away carefully by Rogar and Dokrah. The tunnel has emerged in the upper part of the sewer tunnel with a long drop into the sewer.

“This is a good thing,” Pras explains (he tends to see the upside in things). “We don’t want things wandering the sewer to wander into the basement! A rope ladder” – he nods at Rogar – “can be used here.”

Rogar sets about using the lengths already acquired and soon fastens a good rope ladder in place.

Party order:

  • Snorri and Rogar, melee ready. Both are fully geared though Roger is using his medium loadout. 
  • Pras (with a lantern fastened at least a foot below the tip of a 10’ pole) then Dokrah with bow. Both are armored and well armed.
  • Two northerners, in a shift

 

Exploration

The sewer is knee-deep. The six-man team advances warily. For example, when a dim light is seen ahead, the party’s lantern is masked and Dokrah is sent forward alone. (It proves to be a grate up to a private garden.) The sound of in-pouring water from a side tunnel signals what Pras has expected, a branch east that will lead to the actual site. Stationing the two-man hireling detail there, the party presses up and along the side-tunnel.

It is smaller, so Rogar leads doing more probing, Snorri second. Above the existing odour, Rogar picks up the stench of the inflow. It gets worse as the party nears it. A fetid stream dribbles into the tunnel from the north. Luckily, this is merely a marker. Taking his prepared 35’ length of rope Rogar moves forward (Pras still lighting his way) while Dokrah anchors the rope and Snorri guards Dokrah.

At the end of the rope, the pair study the tunnel roof: it is arched brick. They will need a scaffold to dig upward.

Now to sell the detail plan to Avish!

 

The plan is sealed

At the Golden Lamprey once more the four Avish has been better than his word: he has already lined up a wizard who can scry the stonework! Avish and his bondservant go with the entire party back along the whole course, along the sewers, and to the target. He agrees with the plan, stipulating that he will give the final go-ahead. He will station himself at the mansion as well, to effect his sister’s escape.

Avish again recompenses expenses and takes himself away to wait for the penultimate stage.

The party throw themselves into the task of assembling the scaffold – quietly – and getting up below the fortress floor. Rogar and Dokrah manage the scaffold well, Pras seems to have Mole-man heredity [L5 STR SR for the digging work]. Once flagstone is struck the mage is summoned.

“I see… a room, cluttered, dark. There is a door.”

This sounds ideal – the description matches one of the more distant chambers in Lee-Na’s plan of the basement. The wizard shambles away and Avish hands over his seal, which will entitle the party to the final payment. Dokrah nimbly tucks it away [elected ‘party cockroach’ ie the member most likely to survive]

Snorri and Rogar ease the massy flagstone up [Rogar L2 DEX SR] and shift it and Dokrah clambers up!

 

Exploring the basement

Dokrah can scarce contain himself from going full burglar but Pras’ cooler head reels him in. The northerners – all six – are brought forward to the chamber and the party readies itself for the next stage. Equipment is checked and a light meal consumed and then, as fresh as they can be, they begin.

Dokrah persuades the locked door open. A stone-walled passage lies before the party, and if the map is to be trusted, stand at the foot of a Y-plan, the left arm (closed by a door) leading to one set of chambers, the right arm (open) to another set.

Further exploration reveals that the right arm leads to an empty set of cells and a strongroom. The latter door is too tough for Dokrah so the next option is the left passage. Dokrah works on that door’s lock.

 

Into action!

Immediately the door is opened the situation changes. Somewhere beyond the immediate passage in front of Dokrah is a light!

Being the silent pair, Dokrah leads and Pras follows. Dokrah’s keen ears [IQ SR] pick up pacing. He signals. The pair draw saps and creep forward to the cover of a corner. [Creeping is easy for Dokrah with +5 from cat-burglar] The sound of wood straining is audible. [Another IQ SR] Pras signals the sequence of play then thief-rolls forward while Dokrah waits one heartbeat then steps around swinging his sap.

The tactic nearly works: the Mingol guard’s arrow skitters off the wall above Pras [L2SPD with roguery bonus!] but Dokrah’s swing is blocked. The Mingol shouts the alarm!

Snorri races from where he and Rogar have waited and uses his shield to bull-rush the Mingol into the passage wall. Rogar races past him and guards the next junction. Pras and Dokrah draw lethal knives and begin shivving the Mingol to death – Pras’ idea was for a prisoner but the saps didn’t work so this guard needs to be silenced!

And as the session closes, Rogar notes a barred door, from whence a young woman’s voice is calling!

 

This was a well-paced session with three of the four players actively chipping in. Snorri’s player split his time between game and mobile phone so missed out on AP – and more seriously, had to have the tacticals explained to him twice. Not good.

We used minis for the sewers and passages, switching a few standard gridded “dungeon passage” tiles around. We are using 1:72 plastic minis – I’ve provided a mix of Caesar Miniatures adventurers and various medieval and ancient minis as seems appropriate. At that scale you don’t obsess over an exact look. To represent my 10’ pole with lantern I grabbed a female wizard with bright-knobbed staff!

The GM awarded AP for a couple of roleplayed exchanges that averted or stood in for a regular SR. This is good practice. A pet peeve of mine is roleplaying an exchange then being told to make a roll anyway.

There were some good rolls around the table (the GM’s DARO four times for Lee-Na did not result in AP but was a stand-out) with Pras getting the benefit of an open-ended SR a couple of times. To balance that up Pras and Dokrah rolled a few stinkers. Luckily, not when it really mattered in combat! Lots of AP is ready to unleash should characters survive.

 

 

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About andrewmclaren26

Weekly Roleplayer, Wargamer when I can
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