Photobucket done hid my pictures!

Are you noticing all the "upgrade now" signs everywhere?

Photobucket done hid my pictures!

Can't blame them for not wanting to host things for free - I've gotten years of unpaid service from them - but the $399 annual price tag they want now is a bridge too far.  Gotta figure out a new solution!

Will I ever update ALL the pictures?  Heck no.  But the landing page of the blog'll get cleaned up at some point soonish.  No promises on timeframes, I am focusing on ASE4-5 first.


"What happened to yer blog Mr. Henchman Abuse?"

Worthless status update incoming!

"So what happened to ASE4-5?  Where are all the session reports?  When will you publish again?"

a. I played a lot of Destiny on the PlayStation 4
b. I designed a lot of electronics (my other hobby).  Little circuit boards everywhere, doing things at dangerously high voltages
c. And now I'm playing a lot of Ark: Survival Evolved on the PlayStation 4.  Yeah this is RIGHT UP MY ALLEY.  Dinosaurs for days!
d. I try to get the group together but it's tricky getting everyone together, so not playing as much as I want
e. There was an unrecorded session of White Plume Mountain.  They recovered Wave, went back to Under-Miami, and were introduced to the mayor at a dinner party - who in turn introduced them to Ashkasor.  Players and Ashkasor pretended it was their first meeting, and veiled threats were exchanged.

But yeah, ASE4-5 is still on my radar.  I just get distracted by whatever the latest project is - it's kind of a thing with me, I've always got a half-dozen incomplete projects in the backlog.

In the meantime, just got an email from someone starting up an ASE campaign, and he's blogging the play sessions here:  http://selfportraitasagiant.blogspot.com/

Creative stuff with Monsator!


session recap, 7/10/2016

Pai Mei the Wu-Jen (5)
Rolf the Dwarf (5)
Gutboy the Cleric (6) and his henchdog Rufus II
Kalimar the Ranger (5)

It's been a while since the actual game, so this update is lighter on the details.

The party decided to haul ass to White Plume Mountain and find the artifacts stolen from the Under-Miami Museum of Natural History.

- Bikers encountered on the way - captured, threatened to no avail ("Kill me! What do I care!" "Oh right, they come back to life"), and killed

- In the tunnels under White Plume Mountain, encountered Mindy the Gynosphinx.  Keraptis hired her as security, she blacked out, and woke up cut in half and sewn to a lion's body.  For no good reason, wings have also been sewn to the lion's shoulders.  She's been forced to ask stupid riddles ever since, and has had nothing to eat except some bikers who tried to force their way in ("Don't judge me!").  Stupid riddle answered, and then she is convinced to join the party

- Tunnel full of inductive plates that heat metal.  Rolf strips naked, goes to other end, and is pursued by horde of zombified Under-Miami policemen (who had been sent the day of the theft to recover the artifacts).  Mindy wades in, and in conjunction with gunfire and Gutboy's atheistic faith, they are destroyed.  Their diaries are recovered and eventually returned to the Under-Miami Police Dept

- Room with frictionless surfaces and pits full of spikes.  Mindy flies them over.

- Room with a mid-air stream and kayaks.  "Ehh, let's do something else".  Room ignored.

- Inverted ziggurat - each level a glassed-in enclosure, with alternating levels full of water.  Giant crayfish, giant scorpions, lion-halves sewn to seal-halves, and finally lions with human heads sewn to them and machine guns sewn to their tails.  Keraptis the Wizard has serious issues with sewing things on to lions.  Heavy gunfire shatters glass enclosures, creature mayhem ensues, water eventually drains, everything is dead.  Safe at bottom, looted!

- Room with tiny man, Qesnef, who claims to be a poor captured soul hired on as security and abandoned.  Party believes none of it.  Turns into giant monster, but Pai Mei's drowsy insects quickly send the fiend to sleep.  Throat slit, it's nature's way.  Hey, what's that under a sofa - the lost artifact Blackrazor, a sword so black it appears to be a rift in space.  Rolf grabs it, his eyes roll back, and he charges his comrades, shouting "BLOOD AND SOULS!"  Gutboy paralyzes him with atheistic miracles, Pai Mei and Kalimar break his hands and wrists until he lets go of Blackrazor, and they roll the evil sword into a rug for transport.  They also find a suit of lightweight green plastic armor - Rolf claims this as his own.

- Blackrazor returned!  Levels gained!  Mindy talked out of suicide and remains as henchwoman!


session recap, 5/22/2016

Pai Mei the Wu-Jen (4)
Rolf the Dwarf (3)
Biff the Fighter (4)

It seemed like a year since the party escaped Ashkasor's clutches - but of course, only moments had passed.  They looked around, and Gutboy had wandered off into the swamp to take a leak - but lo!  a stranger named Biff walked up in his stead.  He was wordlessly accepted into the party, like a long-lost brother, such was their bond.

They reviewed their options, and decided it was time to complete the long-delayed drug deal with Sanibel.  Their briefcase full of ball bearings in hand, they headed north through the swamp to Lago.  They traveled along the coast til swamp turned to jungle, and then followed U.S. 1 north where it crossed the Biscayne from Under-Miami back onto the mainland.  For over a day they trekked over the deteriorating asphalt, until the jungle opened up, revealing a dozen or so buildings lining the highway.  A road sign read "LAGO" - but the town's name was crossed out and crudely replaced with the word "HELL" in red paint.

They headed for the bar - an establishment bearing the name "Plain Dealer", with bikers wandering in and out.  Their choppers were lined up outside the door.  Inside, the bikers, their jackets labeled "The Cavers", were busy getting drunk and eyeing the trio.  One of the few non-bikers made his way over - "You.  I'm Cosmo.  Cosmo the Bullet."  The three stared at him in confusion.  "El Blanco sent me.  The drugs?  Let's have 'em."

Rolf:  "Wait, we're supposed to give them to Sanibel."
Cosmo:  "Really?  Fine.  Don't say I didn't warn you.  I don't want these bikers seeing us leave town together.  I'll go first, meet me an hour up the road."
Pai Mei:  "No, I think we'll go first."
Cosmo:  "Whatever.  Just go."

Cosmo left first, conspicuously walking south on U.S. 1, while the party decided to do some shopping.  Across the street from the bar, a tiny figure watched them from the porch of the town sheriff's office - this "little person" was presumably the  sheriff himself.  They made no move to introduce themselves, instead browing the goods in a store imaginatively labeled "Food".  Biff ventured across the street to the establishment labeled "Girls", but found only regret.

After stocking up on canned beans and canned beer, the party marched north up the road.  After a time, they hid in the bushes, and waited for Cosmo.  Four bikers rode slowly by, but didn't see them - and soon after Cosmo appeared, escorted by two heavies in silk suits.  Together, they marched north for a bit, and then headed off into the jungle towards Sanibel's compound.

The journey took over a day, but eventually the filthy group of travelers came upon the spectacular mansion of Sanibel.  The guards in front of the house stepped aside to let them into the foyer, and Cosmo excused himself to let Sanibel know they had arrived.  He returned shortly, and let them into a wide solarium.  As they entered, a pair of guards closed the doors behind them.

The solarium was filled with potted palms and aloe vera plants.  A half dozen guards stood on the floor with them, while Sanibel, El Blanco, and two guards with super-soakers stood on a balcony at the other end of the room.  Incongruously, a rough wooden barrel was sitting on the balcony as well.  Hanging from the ceiling were four brass cages, each containing a spherical horror 4' wide, with wide gnashing mouths and ten long tentacles.

Sanibel:  "Welcome to my home!  You have brought the lanthanides?"
Pai Mei:  (removing the briefcase from his pack and opening it)  "Right here"
Sanibel:  "Juan!  Try a sample!"

One of the guards walked over, and Pai Mei handed him the one genuine lanthanide sphere from the briefcase.  The guard pulled out a tin of greenish jelly and smeared it over his teeth, and then popped the lanthanide sphere into his mouth.  Sparks flew from his teeth as he rolled it around with his tongue, and his eyes rolled back in his head.  "Good stuff boss!"  A strange look came over the guard's face - "I want MORE!" and he yanked the briefcase from Pai Mei's hands, spilling the stainless steel ball bearings all over the floor.

Sanibel shouted in rage, "I don't think so, Juan!  Get him!"  The guards standing next to Sanibel unloaded their super-soakers on Juan, dousing him in cinnamon-scented water.  El Blanco pulled a lever, and the bottoms of the four cages fell open, releasing the tentacled nightmares.  The four decapuses reached down and tore Juan limb from limb.

Sanibel then laughed heartily, and shouted "Time for your cut, Cosmo!"  The guards soaked him as well, with similar results.  The party realized that they were next, and Pai Mei intoned one of his deep magics, summoning a swarm of cavern insects to crawl from the walls, biting most of the guards - and they fell into a deep sleep.  Sanibel and El Blanco swatted the insects away, El Blanco fleeing through a door, and Sanibel pulling out a pistol, taking pot shots at the crew.

Pai Mei responded with a barrage of bolts of arcane energy, gutting Sanibel.  Rolf finished the drug kingpin off with a shot from his plasma rifle, leaving a flaming stump where his head used to be.  The body toppled over the railing cinematically.  The sleeping guards awoke, took one look at the carnage, and fled for their lives.

The party took their time exploring Sanibel's mansion.  In the backyard, they found a pool and two women sunning themselves next to it.  Pai Mei began asking one of the girls questions - she just sighed and said "Ugh, beat it, weirdo" and leapt into the pool, sitting herself underwater on the bottom.  She refused to come up for air, preferring drowning to Pai Mei's conversation.  Rather than witness another suicidal rejection, they returned to the mansion, looted gold chains, a "Polex" wristwatch, and a key from Sanibel's corpse, which in turn unlocked a secret closet containing a briefcase with $100,000, Sanibel's diaries, and a heavy machine gun.  Further searching revealed a pen set and some petty cash, and then the party began the trek back to Under-Miami.

Once they reached U.S. 1, they were met by four bikers, riding three bikes (one of which had a side car).  One of the bikers bore down on them, whirling a chain, but was shot down by Pai Mei's magic missiles.  Pistol shots from Biff and Rolf took out the other bikers, and the contents of their chained wallets were looted.  The party decided to skirt through the jungle rather than walk through Lago - clearly there would be trouble there.

After making their way to Under-Miami, the party headed to the police station and turned the diaries over to Bennett and Lt. Castellan - "Under-Miami owes you a great debt.  Just a metaphorical debt though, this department is under-funded" - and then to the visitor's center to find a place for the night.  To their great horror, there was a line of adventurers from Denethix, several wearing "Blessed Expeditionary Company" t-shirts.  They turned tail, and interrogated passersby until they were directed to the bloodstained rooms of the "Embassy Hotel" - formerly the "Miami Cannibal Society", until the club's unceremonious eviction three days earlier.  The accommodations were found lacking, so they sold their goods ("Nice heavy machine gun!  Haven't seen one since that one I sold to Sanibel!") and invested in a three bedroom apartment only a block from South Beach.  This expenditure was enough to push all three to fifth level.

Gains: 3 gold chains, "Polex" wristwatch, $106,400, pen set, heavy machine gun, 2 uzi's
Kills:  3 guards, Sanibel, 4 bikers
Losses:  none


session recap, 6/28/2015

Gutboy the Cleric (6) and his blink dog Rufus II
Pai Mei the Wu-Jen (4)
Rolf the Dwarf (3)
Simon the Halfling (3)

The party began exploring the prison in which Ashkasar had trapped them.  They found various statues in niches along the walls, of varying species - they provided no clue on how to escape.  Finally, at the far end of the chamber, they stumbled across another pair of portcullises.  Expecting them to open, they poked a 10' pole through the bars of the near one and pressed the pressure plate that triggered the trap - but nothing happened.  Apparently, Ashkasar had been opening and closing the portcullises himself - a depressing realization for the intrepid crew.  Fortunately, brute strength was at hand, and with all the cannibals of the prison slain or turned to dust through Gutboy's faith, they had no problem using their combined strength to push the portcullis upwards.

Beyond, they negotiated a series of tunnels through the underground, discovering stuffed ape heads on pedestals, and the pit traps that disturbing said heads triggered.  The use of 10' poles prevented serious injury, and eventually they made their way to a large room with two skunk ape statues, one holding a quill, and the other a book.

The first ape statue uttered strange phrases when touched - "Never odd or even", "Flee to me, remote elf!" and other nonsense.  The second statue spoke even stranger things - "Knock knock", "Quack", and "Sizzle".  Pai Mei identified the second ape's utterings as onomatopeias, but the first ape statue's babbling was indecipherable.

Ignoring this mystery, they headed through a southern tunnel, finding a strange room filled with bean vines growing from pots.  Rolf was able to see the room clearly - a pair of ape statues were glowing with ultraviolet light - and in a corner, he saw a giant snake.  Rolf tossed a torch in that direction so the rest of the party could see the giant beast, and to their surprise, the snake used its tail to open a door, rushed in, and slammed the door closed.

A cursory inspection revealed ancient runes carved into the stone walls behind the bean vines, mentioning obsidian seeds and a being called the Gann, who was apparently supposed to return to the dungeon at some point.

The party approached the door and opened it, revealing a snake's bedroom - one wall lined with great pillows.  The snake sat coiled at the far end of the room, its head straight up in the air, with the upper half of a goblin sticking out.  The goblin spoke:

Esvet:  "Do not be alarmed, travelers!  I am a simple bean farmer!  This goblin is my method of communication!"
Gutboy:  "Wait, what?"
Esvet:  "My people can only speak through these lesser ones held in our mouths.  We are a peaceful race, and desire only commerce, and to harvest beans.  I am Esvet, of the Zerpanax"
Gutboy:  "Commerce?  What are you looking for?"
Esvet:  "Why, women, of course!"
Gutboy:  "Snake women?"
Esvet:  "No, don't be ridiculous.  We need human wombs to incubate our young.  Subterranean humanoids such as this goblin are inferior incubators, and the children produced are mentally incompetent.  Human women are necessary for proper childbearing!"
Gutboy:  "And what would we get for bringing you human women?"
Esvet:  "I see from your equipment that you are lovers of weapons and technology.  We can provide these in great numbers!  Have you heard of lasers?  Such devices are held in our citadels beneath!"
Gutboy:  "So you're not from here?  You're not the Gann?"
Esvet:  "The Gann?  No, we traveled through subterranean fissures to this dungeon.  Whoever the Gann was, he is long departed.  We worry not about him or his ridiculous apes."
Gutboy:  "So you eat beans?"
Esvet:  "No, our mouthpieces eat beans!  We eat the skunk apes, and sometimes the morlocks, when they are disobedient."
Gutboy:  "Well, we'll get those women for you right away.  Which way out of here?"
Esvet:  "To return to the surface, you'll want to head north.  You'll find some caverns, travel through them and a natural chimney will lead up to the swamps above."

The party (with the notable exception of Pai Mei) found the human-womb-seeking, goblin-devouring snake to be entirely trustworthy, and followed its advice, heading north.  They did indeed find a large natural cavern, with a gong at the far end.  Rolf spied a stony humanoid crouched behind the gong.  They suspected a trap, but pressed forwards regardless - Rufus blinking forward to bite at the stone-man, and the party unleashing a volley of arrows.  The arrows plinked off its stony hide, doing no damage, and the party realized they were in serious trouble, as two more stone men peeled off from the cavern walls.

Rufus managed to down one with his savage blink-dog-jaws, crunching through its rock hide, but the others hammered on the bell and rushed the party, crushing Simon the Halfling into paste.  The party fled for their lives, rushing back to the bean room, and Pai Mei used the ancient powers of the wu jen to secure the door against all intrusion.  Inhuman fists crashed on the other side of the door, and angry hisses were heard, but the mighty doors to the bean room held.

Incensed at Esvet's betrayal, they kicked down the door to his room and unleashed their fury on the slithering liar.  "Please, there must be some misunderstanding!" were the last words of the beast as Rolf severed the snake's head (and the goblin's feet).  The goblin fell from the monster's mouth, moaning in pain.  There was a brief and unsuccessful attempt to interrogate the mostly-unconscious goblin before the party decided that heading south would be a more profitable direction.

The southern tunnels brought them to a room full of morlocks and a giant lizard, who were quickly dispatched - and beyond that, a series of rooms that led back to recognizable staircase.  Despite horrendous mapping errors, the party had found their way out of the dungeon of the Gann.  They followed the more accurate upper level of their map, and made their way back out to the swamp, avoiding the laser stare of the stone ape heads outside.

Gains:  none
Kills:  margoyle, zerpanax, 2 morlocks, subterranean lizard
Losses:  Simon the Halfling


session recap, 5/17/2015

Gutboy the Cleric (6), his blink dog Rufus II, and the three Brothers Melba (1)
Pai Mei the Wu-Jen (4)
Rolf the Dwarf (3)
Simon the Halfling (3), and his henchmen the Unnamed Mariner (2)

The crew looked around - where the hell had Gutboy gone?  - no matter, they had a drug dealer to bust.  They packed up their belongings, headed down the Grand Stair to the Everglades, and began the trek through the swamp, avoiding the highway to Under-Miami, as import/export professionals so often do.

They handily dealt with a lone giant mosquito, climbed into the mossy cypresses to sleep, and then awoke to the sound of skunk apes.  The 7' tall bipeds were marching single file to the west, an unconscious man in an orange jumpsuit slung over one of the beasts' shoulders.  Intrigued, the party followed, and after a few miles saw the swamp 'squatches head towards a stony outcropping with a door cut into it.  The door was flung open, and flanked by giant stone skunk-ape-head-statues.  The cunningly carved eyes of each statue were rolled up so that no pupils were visible.

The intrepid crew headed into the tunnel, and stopped to examine a 6" round shaft cut into the wall.  A few feet into the shaft was the squared-off head of a metal bar.  Simon cajoled his Unnamed Mariner into reaching in to twist the shaft - and as he did so a metal blade swung down inside, shattering the antique Apple Watch he had dredged up from the bottom of the ocean in his seafaring days.  He yanked his arm back, thankful the watch took the brunt.  Pai Mei took a look at the statues, and saw that their eyes had rolled back down, and were pulsing with purple light.  He threw the mariner's shattered watch into the air, and lasers lanced out from their eyes, disintegrating the timepiece!  It was lucky timing, too, as just at that moment Gutboy and his entourage rushed towards the door.

Once inside, they began exploring the tunnels beyond.  They examined several long-abandoned dormitory rooms, lifted a portcullis, fought & killed a pack of skunk apes that had been standing around minding their own business (confiscating a few whistles and nothing else), and then made their way past a pair of ape-themed double doors and down a stairway.

On the lower level, they followed a trail of doors to an ape beauty salon (with ape combs and tubs of sanitizer), and eventually to a chamber with an ape-sized niche in the wall, the surrounding stone carved to resemble a larger ape about to give the niche's contents a hug.  Huddled below the niche was the villager - he was drooling and unresponsive, and covered with swamp scum with the exception of his well-groomed head and shoulders.  The Brothers Melba picked him up and forced him into the niche - and the stone arms reached forward to grip him tightly for a moment, and released him to the floor.  The fellow (identified by the brothers as "Phil") remained in his senseless state, and rather than lug him back to Squamscot, the Brothers lightly killed him, figuring they'd let his reincarnation know what happened later.

Exploring further, they came upon a room filled with implements of torture - thumbscrews, iron maidens, etc.  As they examined the grisly collection, a man in a torn jumpsuit staggered forward.  "Oh thank goodness!  I'm saved" he shouted as he approached.

Gutboy:  "Wait!  Who are you?"
Louis:  "I'm Louis, from Under-Miami!  I escaped from those awful skunk apes, and was hiding here for days!"
Gutboy:  "Really?  You just stayed here, in the dark?"
Louis:  "Uhhh.... yeah...."

Pai Mei thought this sounded fishy, and used the Wig of Lordship he had taken from the Tomb of Elvis to charm Louis.

Pai Mei:  "Who are you really?"
Louis:  "I work for Sanibel! I had a briefcase full of jewels for a deal, and was on my way to Squamscot to make a deal when those apes grabbed me."
Gutboy:  "Jewels?"

Their greed overcoming their paranoia, the party began hatching plans to retrieve the drug jewels and arrange an accident for Louis.  They explored the room further, and found a boudoir around a corner.  Looting the various drawers and trunks, they retrieved a book full of magical writing, a box with a knife and fork (cast into the shapes of screaming faces), a ring of keys, a golden thurible, crystal dish filled with incense, eight flasks of liquid, a scroll tube, and a wide array of expensive suits.  All were dumped into Gutboy's sack.

Heading to the other side of the chamber, they saw a pair of portcullises - the near one up, and the far one down.  Pai Mei jabbed at the floor near the far portcullis with his extensible pole, and the near portcullis slammed down (shattering his pole!) and the far portcullis rose up.  A lone ghoul ran around the corner, only to be driven away by Gutboy's holy presence.  After two minutes, the far portcullis slammed down, and the near one arose again.

Having figured out the nature of the trap, they decided to press ahead anyways.  They ordered everyone, including a sobbing Louis, shaking with fear ("I thought these clones weren't supposed to be afraid to die?") into the space between the two portcullises, and stepped on the pressure plate.  As expected, the near portcullis arose, the far portcullis fell down, and the party began advancing - all but Louis, who remained, clutching the portcullis.

As Gutboy, in the rear, crossed the threshold of the far portcullis, Louis began giggling, and the far portcullis slammed down, while the one he was clinging to began to arise.

Gutboy:  "Why are you laughing?  Are you jewels back here?"
"Louis":  "You seriously haven't worked it out yet?  Louis is not my real name..."
Gutboy:  "I figured that out!  What do you want?"
"Louis":  "You may call me Ashkasar.  All I want is for you to eat...  to dine upon the sweetest flesh..."
Gutboy:  "We've got your stuff!"
Ashkasar:  "Oh, I shall retrieve it later.  There is no hurry.  You'll want the cutlery, of course.  The hunger shall drive you to abandon your pretense of civilization and embrace the natural order!"

As Ashkasar spoke, a teeming horde of cannibal corpses emerged from the darkness around the party.  Pai Mei sent bolts of magical energy into Ashkasar's chest, to no effect whatsoever, while the presumed wizard easily sidestepped an attack by Rufus the Blink Dog.  Meanwhile, the brothers Melba and the unnamed mariner were rended limb-from-limb by the cannibal horde.

Gutboy's holy presence both repelled and attracted the ghouls - as the power of his nonfaith annihilated the fiends, those behind attacked him with increased fervor.  Bloodied and torn, the priest prevailed, and soon only the party members and the giggling Ashkasar remained.

Ashkasar:  "Now it is time for you to dine!"

With that, the session ended.

Gains:  ivory whistle, 2 frosted glass whistles, golden thurible, crystal dish with incense, ring of keys, spell book, glowing wood cube, box with plates and cutlery, suits, scroll tube, eight flasks of liquid
Kills:  giant mosquito, six skunk apes, 12 ghouls, 3 ghasts
Losses:  Phil, the Brothers Melba, the Unnamed Mariner


session recap, 3/15/2015

Gutboy the Cleric (6) and his blink dog Rufus II
Pai Mei the Wu-Jen (4), and his henchmen "The Doctor" the Time Lord (2) and Paula Abdul the Battle Dancer (2)
Rolf the Dwarf (3)

Having a week to kill before they were to meet with Pablo Sanibel and try selling him fake lanthanides, the party decided to head back up to the fifth level and hunt down some of that sweet, sweet dungeon loot.  The hiked across the bridge to the mainland, followed the crumbling highway through the Everglades, and then climbed the Grand Stair up to Swampscott.  They passed through without stopping - waving at their buddies from Customs - and took a pair of golf carts into the tunnel upwards to the dungeon.

The trip passed uneventfully, and after two days of travel they arrived at the dungeon terminal.  They walked up the stairs to the vast mist-filled room (where they had fought a giant daddy long legs) and began walking its perimeter, making note of the many side passages on their map.

They stopped at a pile of bones they had previously encountered in the mist-filled room - and above the bones the stone wall was pocked and chipped.  Paula Abdul began climbing freehand, shouting "It goes up forty feet and there's a ledge OH WHOOPS--" before crashing down to the floor.  Rolf stood over her broken, bleeding body, and began playing a tune on his Metal Axe - BACK IN BLACK.  The grinding distortion brought renewed vigor to Paula's broken limbs, and she leaped up in a fury, determined to ascend to the top.

The second ascent, she climbed with spikes and rope, and carefully made her way upwards.  The party heard another shout - "I made it!  Wait what's that AIEEEEEEE" - and then silence.  Pai Mei hurriedly climbed the rope, uncharacteristically determined to save a henchman's life.  At the top he saw a trio of young giant daddy long legs, each the size of a horse, tearing Paula Abdul apart with their mandibles.  His eyes rolled up in his head as he began a mystic call to the unhatched eggs strewn around- thousands of tiny spiders hatched and crawled towards their larger brethren, biting with somnolescent poisons.  The three spiders fell asleep, and Pai Mei slaughtered them.

The top of the ledge was scattered with bones and rotting clothing - and gold!  Searching through the piles of refuse led to teh discovery of 1,000 gp, four gold necklaces each spelling the name "VINNY", a cardboard box labeled "ORDNANCE - LANDMINE" containing a metal disc, and a glass jar with two rainbow colored leeches crawling around inside.

The party headed back down to the misty room, and headed through one of the newfound side passages.  At the end of this passage was a room with a box, carved from the living stone of the room itself, standing at its eastern end.  The wall behind the box was carved with a relief of a leafy tree, and two niches were cut in its branches.  The floor of each niche had three metal pins sticking up.  The party had seen these niches before - crystal skulls were placed in them, for reasons they had not yet determined.

Rolf put a green skull in the first niche - it began glowing softly.  This had happened in a similar room (with but one niche in the tree-carving) on the 1st level.  The party had been stymied then as to its purpose.  He then placed the yellow skull taken from the interdimensional portal on the 3rd level into the second niche - this one vibrated and sparked noisily.  Clearly the yellow skull was not meant for this niche.  He then removed the skulls, figuring they didn't have the right colors to solve this puzzle.

They then began exploring side passages from this room.  One to the north ended at a closed door - opening it revealed a room with dozens of unlit torches in sconces along the wall, and a floor covered with what looked like raisins.  Closer inspection revealed the raisins to be dried slugs, covered with a light dusting of salt.  As they examined the piles of dead slugs, they heard an accusing voice from the hallway - "MURDERERS!  YOU SHALL PAY!" - and turned around to see massive piles of living slugs dropping from the ceiling to the floor, blocking the exit.

The two Slug Collectives assembled themselves into upright, manlife forms and began punching at the party.  Rolf took a beating, but Gutboy's potent prayers to his non-deity and Pai Mei's magic missiles eventually killed enough of the slugs that the remaining portions of the collectives collapsed.  The individual slugs were easily stomped into slimy paste after that.

The party examined the torches and found that four (one on each wall) would turn - but they would not turn fully individually.  Gutboy spiked the door open, and the four surviving party members tried turning them simultaneously - a secret door on the west wall swiveled open a short ways and then stopped, and grinding noises were heard from the spiked door.  Clearly the spiked door would have to close for the secret door to open, so the spike was removed, the torches turned, the door closed, and the secret passage opened.

The party followed the passage towards a circular room, with four silver rods with sharp crystals at their ends sticking out of the floor.  A milky-white crystal statue, 7' tall, stood in the center of the room.  Unsurprisingly, the statue came to life moved towards them, slashing and ripping with sharp crystal claws.  Rolf was able to damage it with the Metal Axe, but Pai Mei's non-magical weapons were ineffective.  The Doctor was finally able to use a Time Lord abililty, sending a significant chunk of the statue's head a few minutes into the future.  Sadly, this was the Doctor's last act, as the crystal monstrosity tore him limb from limb in retaliation.

Panicking, the party ran back towards the raisin room - and thinking quickly, Pai Mei dropped the newly-acquired landmine behind him as he ran.  There was an earth-shattering kaboom, and the party returned to see the circular room covered with white powder - salt.  The salt golem had been dealt with, but two of the silver rods were bent in half.  All four (damaged and undamaged) easily lifted from the floor.

The party decided that was enough excitement, and headed to Bartertown.  When the elevator doors to Bartertown opened, another adventuring party stepped out, dressed in black - and immediately began fawning over Gutboy.

Adventurer:  "You're Gutboy the Glittering!  Omigod, you're the reason I got into adventuring!  I can't believe I'm meeting you in the flesh!  This is awesome!"
Gutboy:  "Yes, it is!  So, who are you guys?"
Adventurer:  "We're Bela's Boys - we work for Bela Isogul.  He comes in with us sometimes, but not every trip.  We're looking for some guy he says lives in here - Count Dracul?  You ever heard of him?"
Gutboy:  "No, never.  Say, what do you guys think of the Blessed Expeditionary Company?  Does Bela like paying the taxes?"
Adventurer:  "Hell no!  Who likes paying taxes?"
Gutboy:  "Well, we should have a meeting.  Maybe we can come to an understanding."
Adventurer:  "No problem, we'll talk to him!  Here, take our card!  He stays at a hotel in Retennis."
Gutboy:  "Does he ever visit to Lugosi?"
Adventurer:  "No, and he's real weird about that place.  Says they're all jerks there.  Well, good meeting you in person!"

Bela's Boys headed off into the dungeon, and the party filed into the elevator.  Once in Bartertown, much shopping and negotiating commenced - the net result being a visit to Boris the Crawler at the Dying Way, to trade of the Sword of Unlife (held by Gutboy, as he didn't trust anyone to not die holding it and produce a horrid wight) for a strange stainless steel mace, whose head was a green glass sphere filled with liquid, held in place by stainless steel ribs.  Pai Mei was unable to determine its thaumaturgical powers, but both he and Gutboy were sure of its puissance.  Additionally, Boris informed them that the rods with crystals atop them were salt spears, feared and hated by the Slug Collectives.  They also determined that the leeches were some form of drug, although their method of application and effects remain unknown.

Healed up and ready for action, they made the trek back to the underground village of Swampscott, hiring three local yokels as henchmen - the brothers Melba.  How they are "brothers" when the citizens of Under-Miami are produced by cloning machines remains a mystery.

Gains: 1000 gp, 4 gold "Vinny" necklaces, jar of variegated eye-leeches, 4 salt spears (two damaged), green glass mace
Kills:  3 baby giant daddy long legs, two Slug Collectives, one salt golem
Losses:  Paula Abdul, The Doctor, Sword of Unlife