Session date: Monday, August 15, 2016
Game date: Saturday, February 8, 209
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 4, hp 23, xp 10147/17000
Caryatid, Magic-user 4, hp 19, xp 11780/20000
Simon Sackwell, Halfling 1, hp 4, xp 1177/2000
Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 2, hp 13, xp 3456/4000
Brother Chase Pike, Cleric 1, hp 6, xp 147/1500
Remus Thynerius, Thief 1, hp 2, xp 0/1250
Another Monday evening, another delve into the dungeons below the bustling city of Idalium. Simon's player decided to hire a retainer, and rolled up a thief named Remus Thynerius, in the hopes of filling some gaps in the party skillset. The party did a little bit of above-ground adventuring before entering the dungeon. They visited "Crazy Harry", the apothecary, and showed him the preternaturally beautiful fruit that they had smuggled out of the feast in the palace of the Goblin King (in a doggy bag, I guess). He believed he could "reverse engineer" the magic of the fruit and concoct an antidote for those ensorcelled by the goblin food. "Come back in a week, and we'll see what I've got." They also visted the elderly Professor Zinn, in his 5th floor apartment overlooking the city from the top of the Street of Steps. They asked him about the goblin food and he confirmed that legends told how the food of the goblins first casts a charm over those who eat it, convincing them that the goblins have their best interests at heart, and then, if enough food is eaten over a period of days, provokes a horrible transformation of a human into a goblin! The professor was dubious that there was any way to reverse this transformation, but agreed in theory that perhaps the charm could be broken if done so early enough in the process.
The party descended into the dungeons, intent on exploring the northwest area of the second level. On the way, they ran into their erstwhile retainer Brother (now Father!) Jedidiah, who was now the leader of a party of adventuring bandits, having converted them to the path of God. They bid him good luck and continued on their way, stopping at the entrance to the orcs' lair to leave the remaining goblin fruit in the bowl the orcs had set out for "honor system tolls". Concerned that the dungeon urchins might steal it to eat, they chalked a note "For orcs only!"
As they made their way north, they stopped at a door behind which they heard buzzing, and Simon used his "clarity" medallion to read the minds of anyone behind the door. He heard gutteral, angry voices in his mind - orcs who were trapped in a room and afraid of the giant bees! They laughed and continued on their way.
They found a room with a brass plaque outside reading (in Ancient Idalian) "Hotel Lethia Honeymoon Suite". Inside was a once-lavish but now tattered bedroom, with a canopy bed fallen into moth-eaten rags, a large dry "hot tub", and broken down and dry-rotted furniture. In a decayed chest of drawers they found a plain but polished stone ring, a bit larger than anyone's fingers. Gulleck tucked it away in his backpack for safe keeping.
Further down the hall, they came to another door with a brass plaque that read "Hotel Lethia". The door was sealed shut with rags that seemed to be impregnated with wax, and a giant red "X" was painted across it in drippy red paint.
"Nope!" everyone said in unison and continued north.
Finally they came to another door, with a sign hung on it by a piece of wire. The sign read, "Home Sweet Home" and below that it said "Monsters Stay Out!" This area of the adventurers map read, "Hippieland, avoid at all costs!" and we were about to discover why. Gulleck knocked on the door.
You ever have a joke that popped into your head, and you waited patiently for over a year to spring it, and then when your players finally got there they totally jumped the gun on the punchline? That's exactly what happened here. I said, "... Who is it?" in a wheezy voice, and everyone jumped in with "Dave's not here man!"
Ahem. So this is how it was *supposed* to go.
"...who is it?"
"... ... Gulleck's not here, man!"
To my players' credit, they humored me and did this the proper way and played along.
"No, this is Gulleck!"
"... Who??? Gulleck's not here."
And so on. Eventually we got an answer to "Who is it?" Last time with the orcs it was "Gong Inspectors", and well, now it was "Bong Inspectors"!
The hippies opened the door and were pleased to see their acquaintances come to visit. "Hey, man, good to see you! You wanna come in and check out our digs? We got a real groovy thing going on here. Welcome, welcome, travelers!" The adventurers nervously entered a large hall with several stone pillars supporting the ceiling. There was a firepit alight in the middle of the room, with some sort of meat roasting on a spit above it. Bedrolls and blankets were strewn about. The two hippies who invited the adventurers in introduced themselves as Jimmy (or was it Jimi?) and Linda.
"Hey, come with us, we'll give you the mystery tour of the place!"
The hippies led the group through a number of rooms, and the faces of the adventurers grew more nervous and dismayed all the while. In the first room chairs, tables, and other accumulated furniture were stacked neatly and incredibly precisely to the ceiling. Two other hippies were engaged in deep concentration measuring the furniture and making minor adjustments.
The next room was a larder, full of all sorts of horrid foods: dead rats (giant and otherwise), spiders, centipedes, and other vermin. "Uh... is this what you eat down here?" asked Gulleck. "Hey man," said Jimmy, "don't knock it til you've tried it. Anyway, you get used to it after a while. You gotta do what you gotta do, dig? Right on."
The next room was empty apart from hundreds of intricate chalk spirals and concentric circles covering all of the floor, walls, and ceiling. Two more hippies were hard at work drawing more.
Finally, they came to a storeroom. "This is our room of treasures!" bragged Linda. Along one wall, a hippie was carefully arranging piles of silver shekels. First there were two silver coins on floor, then a stack of two coins, then a stack of three, then five, eight, thirteen, and half a dozen piles after that, each increasing in height. Against another wall were neat stacks of old adventuring equipment, apparently itemized into categories: tidy stacks of backpacks, armor, weapons, iron spikes, etc.
Gulleck looked at the old adventuring gear. "You, uh, don't use this stuff anymore?"
"No, man, that was, like, a long, long time ago. Now we just take it easy here, you know?"
"Well, why don't you, uh, maybe sell that stuff and buy some better food?"
Jimmy's eyes twitched a bit and narrowed. "Why would we want to do that? We spent hours and hours arranging those things like that."
"Well, I mean, then you'd have more food and you wouldn't have piles of junk."
"WHAT DID YOU SAY???" screeched Jimmy. "THAT JUNK IS VERY IMPORTANT TO US!!!"
"Whoa!" exclaimed Caryatid. "Dial it back!"
"DIAL IT BACK???" screamed Linda. "DIAL IT BACK!!!???"
And without warning Linda lunged at Caryatid. Caryatid slipped on her ring of invisibility, but Linda's hands reached for the last place Caryatid had been and closed around her throat, choking her. The hippie (did I say they were hippies? Actually, berserkers!) who had been counting the shekels cowered in the corner, arms wrapped around his head.
Jimmy jumped at Gulleck, and Gulleck, who was loath to respond with lethal force against these clearly unhinged people, sidestepped him and tripped him as he attacked. Dwarven jujitsu! Gulleck quickly sat on Jimmy and held his arms behind his back.
Caryatid struggled but was unable to free herself from Linda's choking grasp, and was strangled to death, becoming visible as she slumped to the ground. Now, do you remember the little monkey that Caryatid acquired in a far-away land, named Marcel, and carried around on her shoulder? Well, these are the moments when decisions like that pay off. When Marcel saw his mistress strangled to death, he went absolutely stark raving insane. He pulled a dagger from Caryatid's belt and stabbed Linda again and again until she fell, blood spraying everywhere.
"LINDA!!!" screamed the cowering hippie, and charged the adventurers. Remus took the brunt of the impact, and he was slammed into the stone wall. His head cracked against the wall and he fell to the floor, dead. Marcel leapt off of Linda's corpse to stab at this hippie with the dagger, opening up deep wounds as the knife rose and fell. The hippie fell with a shriek. It was a one monkey bloodbath (all attack and damage rolled completely legitimately, I should add!).
Jimmy wouldn't stop struggling, so Gulleck whacked him on the head with the flat of his axe and he fell stunned. The surviving adventurers tied Jimmy up with some rope and then waited for him to regain consciousness.
"Oh no, man, what happened! Somethin' really bad..." Jimmy looked around with wide eyes at the four bloody corpses surrounding him. "Oh, man, this is a real bummer..."
Gulleck and Simon did their best to keep Jimmy calm as they tried to explain. Jimmy seemed contrite. Gulleck told him about the pool at the south end of the dungeon level that could revive the recently deceased and suggested he try bringing Linda and the other to the pool. Jimmy agreed to escort Gulleck out of the hippies' den, so that Caryatid and Remus could be revived. They passed through a lounge, where four hippies lay on couches and bedrolls, staring vaguely into space or meditating.
"Whoa," said one of the hippies as Caryatid's and Remus's corpses were carried through. "Bad trip, man."
The ceremonial drums of the orcs were echoing through the halls as the adventures carries the bodies of the comrades to the resurrection pool. The pool was just across a hall from the orc temple, and they could hear an orc's voice raised in exhortation: "Oh, great Ashaku'mar! Grant us retribution against Gong Inspectors!"
Caryatid and Remus were lowered into the mystical pool of slippery warm liquid, where they emerged gasping moments later, fully healed of all wounds and marks. The group fled upstairs and returned to the Rusty Lantern tavern, with nothing but war stories to show for their efforts.