The final session continued where the previous session left off, with our heroes standing on a pile of corpses… again.Having looted their victims, but none the wiser as to the purpose of the rat-catchers’ guild they were so efficiently destroying, they decided to go back to the start of the sewer complex and explore every room. Amongst the pile of recently-dead they found a map of the sewers in full detail, though it didn’t tell them that a nest of giant spiders was waiting for them near the entrance, or that the warehouse for normal sewer workers was situated perilously close to a Giant Toad’s lair, but inevitably they would deal with these obstacles in the time-honoured fashion. They returned to the entrance from the safe-house above, and set about exploring the remaining spaces in the sewers.

The Giant Spiders

Some distance from the rat-catchers they had previously killed the PCs stumbled into a room containing 4 giant spiders. The spiders’ attempt at a stealthy ambush was only partially successful, and in the ensuing battle three of them died very quickly. Several of the PCs were bitten, but no venomous effects ensued, and the remaining spider panicked and fled. The PCs discovered that its lair hid an entrance to an ancient jeweller’s workshop, and looted it accordingly[1]. This old gem cutters room seemed to have been long forgotten by the sewer’s other denizens, and the last person to stumble into this room was now enshrouded in webs, his last healing potion unused and free for the PCs to take. They marked the location of the remaining spider, and retreated to the main causeway.

Toad-in-the-Hole

They crossed from the main causeway back past the entry to the sewers, to another causeway that placed them roughly diametrically opposite the location of the spiders. Here the causeway flowed deeper into the sewers, but first it passed a storage room for sewer workers, the stairs from which led up to a perfectly normal city building, such as sewer workers might occasionally use to prepare for their work. This room contained nothing of interest, but at one end there was a closed door, which the characters wanted to enter. Next to it a rough note had been scrawled on the wall:

Be careful of Frogs

Assuming this to be a warning against some kind of giant beast, the PCs girded themselves and opened the door. They passed through into a large cave-like room, the floor of which was flooded with stagnant water. One of them threw a rock into the middle of the pool but nothing happened. They decided to what PCs throughout time and space always do in this situation, and press forward. Sure enough, as soon as they were into the pool, a massive toad lunged from the water and struck out with its tongue, which wrapped up Heinze the soldier and started dragging him into the pool. This toad was big enough to eat a grumpy Reikland soldier whole[2], so everyone charged recklessly into the fray. The wizard, unfortunately, had to pause to draw power, and Suzette the Disciple was also somewhat under powered. While Aruson the thief fired arrows into the toad’s repulsive, warty hide, Suzette grabbed its tongue and tried to help Heinze free his sword arm. She offered him just enough assistance to be able to get in one good strike, and he managed to stick his spear right through the toad’s mouth and out one eye. It gargled horribly and died. The PCs continued through the room to a rough-hewn tunnel on the other side, and stumbled on the secret they had been searching for.

The Rat-catchers’ Secret

Beyond the abode of the hungry toad was a dark corridor, at the end of which was perhaps a vague light. Aruson crept forward and found himself facing an opening into a larger cave, guarded by two rat-catcher sewer guards. He couldn’t pass them easily into the room and couldn’t see inside, but voices inside the room carried easily to his hiding place. He listened to a conversation between a frightened-sounding man and a strange, sibilant voice that was surely not human:

  • [Sibilant Monster]: Have you opened the entrance?
  • [Frightened Man]:Yes, it has been opened. Since we kidnapped the nobleman’s daughter he has been very helpful in teaching us how to open it. He still believes his daughter will be returned after we execute the plan.
  • [Sibilant Monster]: Good… but, recently your activities have been discovered, have they not?
  • [Frightened Man]: I’m sorry to say that we have been discovered by some new adventurers
  • [Sibilant Monster]: Do you think they’re servants of the nobleman?
  • [Frightened Man]: I don’t think that’s the case. The nobleman is too scared of losing his daughter to employ any adventurers. We don’t know why these adventurers have become involved. We’re moving against them, but the task has consumed many of my rat-catchers
  • [Sibilant Monster]: I don’t care to hear the excuses for your failure. If your organization is no longer convenient to me I don’t need you, and if evidence of your relationship to me is discovered before the attack, I will have to remove all evidence of it. Do you understand me?
  • [Frightened Man]: I understand. We will resolve this problem with the adventurers soon. Then my remaining rat-catchers will help you in the attack.
  • [Sibilant Monster]: That would be best. Your assistance in this plan has made it easier to carry out, but if you fail your organization will no longer be useful to me.
  • [Frightened Man]: (gulps)
  • [Sibilant Monster]: Okay, I’m returning. I leave this in your hands. Don’t fail me.
  • [Frightened Man]: We will put all our efforts in!

This was followed by the sound of light footsteps, and a door being opened and closed. The Frightened man began calling in guards from other parts of the cave system, and the PCs realized it was time to act. Aruson picked off the two guards nearest to the PCs with a single volley of shots, and the group charged into the main cave. Here they found the boss of the rat-catchers’ guild, a bodyguard and 6 sewer guards. The battle that followed was brief and brutal, but soon finished with minimal injury to the PCs. They took the sewer lord captive, and offered him a simple choice – tell them everything or spend the last few hours of his life in the spider’s lair.

With this option before him, and looking at the bodies of the last 8 members of his organization, the rat-catcher leader realized that his only safety lay in betraying his monstrous master, and he told the PCs everything. His rat-catcher’s guild was working as spies for a group of monsters that lived below the city, and had been doing their bidding for a little while. Most members of the guild didn’t know about these monsters and believed they were doing the bidding of a local nobleman. In fact the nobleman in question was doing what the rat-catchers told him, because they had abducted his daughter and were holding her prisoner as security against his good behaviour. In fact, his good behaviour was essential to the monster’s plan. They had uncovered an ancient entrance from the sewers to the Temple of Sigmar, but the door could only be opened by a specific key – a key that was a long forgotten heirloom for an Ubersreik noble family. This nobleman was from that family, and had found the key for the rat-catchers. Now they were biding their time, clearing out the area around the door and preparing for a large force of the monsters to attack Sigmar’s Temple from the sewers. Apparently there was something in the temple that they wanted, and they intended to slay all of Sigmar’s servants while they sought it. They knew that the High Priest of Sigmar would be away in Altdorf within a month, and so they were going to attack then, when she and her strongest bodyguards were away.

The rat-catcher the PCs had found all those weeks ago when travelling to Ubersreik had been on a mission for the monsters. Apparently these monsters had been having difficulty with an orc tribe whose territory abutted their own somewhere underground, and had asked the rat-catchers to send a spy aboveground to find out if the orc tribe were connected to any other tribes or groups that would make it dangerous to attack. He had somehow failed, and the Orcs had been trying to dump his body in a way that hid their presence in the area when the PCs found him. It was purely through happenstance that the PCs had become entangled in the rat-catchers’ plans at all.

When asked to describe the monsters, the sewer lord told them that they were a kind of twisted, monstrous hybrid of rats and humans.

Skaven.

The Rat Ogre

The PCs demanded he take them to the nobleman’s daughter to free her, and he duly did, leading them down a long, dark tunnel. He didn’t mention, however, that the room at the end was guarded by a rat ogre. The PCs almost blundered straight into this beast’s grasp but were sensible enough to scout ahead. When they saw it they roughed up their captive a bit, then set out to ambush the Rat Ogre. Though fearsome in aspect, this thing fell quickly and easily to their combined forces, and they were able to rescue the girl from her captivity at the edge of the room. From there, having eliminated the rat-catchers’ guild, caught its leader, looted its possessions and uncovered its plans, there was nothing for it but to go to the Temple of Sigmar and explain the situation.

Resolution and Rewards

The High Priest of Sigmar was very interested in this news, and together they set a trap. The sewer lord was put under a geas and forced to return to the skaven and tell them that he had destroyed the adventurers, and that rumours abroad in town suggested the High Priest was moving a dangerous and evil item to Altdorf within days. The skaven would have to attack sooner than expected. This he did, and the Priests and soldiers of the town set a trap for them in the basement of the temple. A force of maybe 50 Skaven emerged from the sewers a few days later, and were set upon in a vicious battle that claimed many lives. The skaven quickly withdrew, but were unable to take all their dead with them, and so the town of Ubersreik were able to find physical evidence of those beasts that were previously only an evil rumour. The High Priest quickly took these bodies and their possessions away, “to do research in Altdorf,” and all that remained of the battle in Ubersreik was rumour and hearsay. The PCs were able to find out that the Skaven had entered the temple to steal a piece of warpstone that was being held there under guard while the Priests of Sigmar sought ways to destroy it.

As a reward for their efforts, the PCs were given some money, and a deed of land title over Black Rock Keep, in nearby Heideldorf, where recently they had vanquished some mutants and uncovered a cannibalism ring. None of the players viewed this as a particularly good reward…

Conclusion

Because of my sudden move to Tokyo this campaign had to be wrapped up quicker than expected, so the truth of the guild and the skaven had to be revealed in a sudden ending rather than dripping out piece by piece. In my next post I will give some final thoughts about Warhammer 3, GMing in Japanese, and Skaven.

fn1: In case you know it, I’m using an entry from the One-Page Dungeon for this adventure’s map…

fn2: If you’re wondering how a toad that big can hide in a pond, try visiting an Australian crocodile farm sometime. In those places, beasts big enough to be dinosaurs can hide from view in a foot of water. They are truly loathsome beasts…

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