session recap, 1/25/2015

Gutboy the Cleric (6), his henchpeople Trezgar the Elf (3) and Bunny the Thief (3), 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)
Kalimar the Ranger (3)

The crew followed the customs agents to the nearby village of Swampscott, which stood on a plateau overlooking a vast cavern, perhaps 150 miles end-to-end.  It was lit by an artificial sun - a tube of plasma energy running from one end to another.  Below the plateau was a vast mangrove swamp, and to the east of that the city of Under-Miami stood on the western edge of an underground sea. Volcanos spewed smoke and steam throughout the landscape, a ruined city (identified by the customs agents as "Boston") stood on the far side under a broken glass dome, and sphere of black-and-violet energy broiled above a mountain on the opposite coast.  The distances were too vast to see beyond these landmarks.

The customs agents led them into a bar (the "Thirsty Whale"), and they ordered a round of fermented milk (for all but Pai Mei, who refused when learning the milk came from nipples on the "meat pods").  As they drank and talked about getting to Under-Miami proper, a pair of bald gentlemen in fresh orange jumpsuits walked in.  They had no memories - at least not until the bartender handed each of them their diaries, which they had left for safekeeping. "Ahh, says here I was off to find out what's been riling up all the skunk apes!  Fifth time I've gone missing!  Well, I'd better get out there again and find out what those things are up to, this don't bode well!"

A bit of conversation later, and the party learned that the people of Under-Miami considered themselves immortal, being "reborn" in a facility named the Creatatorium whenever their bodies died. Arriving without memories, they'd make their way to wherever they naturally hid their diaries and rediscover the past they had written down.  The party was intrigued - if this Creatorium worked for them as well, they too could live forever!

There was also some confusion when it came time to pay the bar tab - the customs agents bought the drinks with paper money.  It soon shook out that one silver piece was referred to as a "silver dollar", and they could exchange a gold piece for ten "bucks".  The citizenry in the bar assured the party that their "dungeon coins" were just fine, and they didn't have to go to a bank to exchange gold for cash, although it would certainly fit in their wallets better...

Refusing an offer of $20 to help the lentil farmers of the plateau find out what was bothering the normally placed skunk apes of the swamp below, they climbed down the Grand Stair and followed the cracked pavement of the highway north to Under-Miami.  The passage through the swamp was uneventful - a few skunk apes were sighted in the mangroves, but they kept their distance.  As the party crossed the miles-long bridge from the mainland to the city, there were several exit ramps leading to nearby islands - and speeding automobiles passed them, the drivers shouting helpful suggestions such as "Get out of the road, jerks!"  and "Get a job, you bums!" As they reached the island that Under-Miami stood upon, the great beam of light above dimmed, and lights flickered on in the city.  An artificial night-cycle had begun.

No matter that - they crossed over to the city and headed towards the sound of salsa music coming from a windowless bar.  Inside, the clearly criminal class of customer backed away from the heavily armed and freakish-looking party.  They interrogated the bartender about where they could stay - he indicated perhaps a group known as "The Libertines" would take them in, or maybe they could stop at the Visitor's Center - both were on Ocean Drive, a few blocks to the east.  As the party got up and left, a seedy fellow came up to them and started an unwanted conversation:

Addict:  "Hey! Psst!  You're from the surface, aren't you?"
Pai Mei:  "You know about that?"
Addict:  "Yeah, I know, you can trust me.  I need lanthanides!  I got money!"
Pai Mei:  "Sorry..."
Addict:  "Aww man, don't hold out on me!  I know you got 'em!  They come from the surface!"
Pai Mei:  "We don't have any.  Get lost."

The addict sneered as he sidled off, and the party headed towards Ocean Drive.  The art deco hotels along the beach were lit up with pastel neon lights, and peculiar groups sat at tables in front of the hotels.  In front of one were a group of gray-bearded old men and (beardless) women, playing chess - these were Methusalans, paranoid eccentrics who believed that they truly died and their rebirths were different individuals entirely.  Past them were a group of tattooed individuals wearing leather pants and little else, many of them with both arms amputated for reasons of fashion - the Libertines.

The party ignored the hotels and headed for a dark building at the north end of the beach - the Under-Miami Visitor's Center.  The glass doors were unlocked, and inside were rusty racks of decaying pamphlets ("Whale Watches of Under-Miami", displaying pictures of oddly tentacled whales breaching, with the warning "Do Not Taunt the Whales") on dusty counters.  Behind the main counter they found a diary  (with thousands of the same entry: "Came to work.  No visitors showed up.") and a relatively fresh apple.  Nothing else interesting was discovered, so they went to sleep on the dusty floor.

In the morning, a young woman entered - the visitor's center clerk! She was stunned to see actual visitors, and it took several minutes before she recovered her composure enough to answer their many questions.

. Housing - there were no proper inns or hotels, as there were no visitors.  Given their bizarre appearance, the party could probably get lodging with the Libertines
. Art Deco Hotels - they were all permanently occupied by "clubs", such as the Methusalans and the Libertines
. Work - All jobs were assigned by the government.  Many people ignored those and were in the informal "import/export" business
. Things to Do - the Museum of Natural History was offered up as a possible tourist attraction
. Hospitals - They could easily fix up Bunny's severed fingers and cursed bleeding hands

Of course, the next stop was shopping.  The party unloaded their loot (including Pai Mei's hideous tentacled mask, revealing his hideous tentacled face) and split the proceeds (all in bizarre paper currency).  Pai Mei commissioned a silk veil to hide his grotesque appearance, and once that was sewn up they ventured to the hospital to get Bunny's various medical conditions attended to.

Oddly, all the doctors (in their green scrubs) were carrying sidearms.  One of them saw Bunny's fingerless hand and exclaimed "Oh, you poor dear!  Come with me, we'll get that fixed up in a jiffy!"  The party followed her and the doctor into the examining room.  The doctor sat Bunny on a chair, pulled out his pistol, aimed it at Bunny's head, and fired.  Bunny jumped out of the way before the gun went off, and ran for the door - but Pai Mei used his sorceries to summon a swarm of biting insects that put Bunny to sleep.  "Ahh, that's better" said the doctor as he blew Bunny's brains out.

Pai Mei:  "So she gets a new body now, right?"
Doctor:  "Oh yes, in a week or so."
Pai Mei:  "So, where do we pick her up?  We're not from around here."
Doctor:  "Really?  Huh, I thought everyone was from around here. Well, she'll probably be at the Creatatorium back where you came from, or maybe from ours."
Gutboy:  "Maybe we made a mistake..."

Concerned that bullets-to-the-head may not be a legitimate medical procedure, the party headed to the Creatatorium to see how they handled strangers' reincarnations.  The white-jacketed staff there informed them that they'd never seen a stranger come out of the rebirthing tubes, but if she showed up, they'd be sure to point her in their direction.

Looking for a bit of adventure, the party headed towards the Under-Miami Museum of Natural History.  When they got there, yellow police tape had been stretched across the stairs, and blue-suited officers were walking in and out of the building.  Two detectives in expensive silk suits walked up to talk to the party - the same duo they had interrupted in Bartertown.

Bennett:  "Well, well, look who decided to show up after a major robbery."
Gutboy:  "What got stolen?"
Bennett:  "Some exhibits from the weapons display - a hammer, a trident, and a sword.  Wouldn't know anything about that, would you?"
Gutboy:  "Absolutely not!  Nothing to do with us!"
Bennett:  "Let's talk about this some more downtown.  In the cars."

Gutboy tried sneaking away, but being in full view of the entire Under-Miami Police Dept, was unsuccessful.  He also noticed Trezgar had gone missing (Rufus:  "He left after you let that doctor shoot Bunny in the head").  Gutboy and the rest of the party were pushed into the back of several police cruisers, taken to the city police department, and herded into a pastel interrogation room.  An acne-scarred man came in, introducing himself as Lt. Castellan.

Castellan:  "You're from the surface.  Yeah, we know about it.  You ever hear of a wizard called Keraptis?"
Gutboy:  "No... who's he?"
Castellan:  (showing surveillance video of a half-man, half-liquid-metal wizard flipping the bird to a security camera and stealing the weapons from the Museum) "He left a note, signed it Keraptis.  It's a riddle about where he's taking the weapons. Simple riddle, he's referring to the volcano north of the city. We're sending a SWAT team up now to recover them.  You recognize him?"
Pai Mei:  "No, we didn't do it."
Castellan:  "If I didn't know that already, we'd be having a very different conversation.  I understand you surface folk don't come back when you die.  It'd be a one way trip for all of you."
Bennett:  "Now here's the thing.  We need you."
Castellan:  "There's a new drug on the streets, coming from the surface.  Lanthanides."
Pai Mei:  "Oh right, we know about that.  We're not bringing it in!"
Castellan:  "I know that, too.  Pablo Sanibel has arranged to get it smuggled in.  We need to take him down.  I want you to get close to him and arrange to bring a  load in for him.  Make sure you meet him in person.  When you do, get his diary.  That will have the proof we need to put him away for life.  We can't just kill him - he'll come back, and we're back at square zero with no evidence."
Bennett:  "Once you've got the diary, put a bullet in him. It'll be easier to pick him up when he comes out of the Creatatorium."
Gutboy:  "How about colloidal silver?  We can sell him that, our henchmen were addicted to it."
Castellan:  "I don't know what that is - but anything from the surface he'll buy.  Just make it happen.  Let us know when you set up the meet, we can arrange a case full of steel ball bearings, and one actual lanthanide ball.  Make sure they test the actual lanthanide, and you'll be fine."
Bennett:  "You need money, right?  You take what you find on him. Just don't touch any lanthanides, or you'll be sleeping at the bottom of Biscayne Bay.  Come see me at the marina once you've set up the drop."

With those instructions given, the party was free to go.  They immediately set out shopping again, picking up expensive silk suits tailored to fit over their armor, and headed to a club named "Import/Export" - a likely spot to make contact with one of Pablo Sanibel's men.

While at the club, a sleazy fellow in a silk suit (like so many of the other patrons) came up and said "You're from the surface, ey? El Blanco wants to talk to you!"  He led them to a table where an elderly gentleman with gold chains sat, a pair of young blonde ladies at his side.

El Blanco:  "Well, I'll be.  A couple of surfacers, here in Under-Miami.  You looking to do a little business?  It all goes through Sanibel down here."
Gutboy:  "What kind of business?"
El Blanco:  "You a cop?  Ha!  I already know you're from the surface.  Look at you freaks.  Lanthanides!  We'll buy whatever you've got."
Gutboy:  "What's a lanthanide?"
Pai Mei:  "Whoa!  Ignore him!  We can get you lanthanides!"
El Blanco:  "Yeah?  Good.  Look, here's how it works.  Those guys we're doing business with now, the BEC, they've gotta be gouging us.  You get 'em to us cheaper, we'll buy whatever you can bring. Let's say, one million for 50 doses to start.  You bring that down and meet us in Lago and we'll do the buy there.  It's in the jungles north of Under-Miami - stay out of the city on the way down, you don't want the cops picking you up with the cargo.  Just go the long way around through the swamps and meet up with the highway north of the city.  You got a week."
Pai Mei:  "We'll be there."
El Blanco:  "And don't worry about customs - they won't be looking for anything.  That's taken care of."

The deal struck, the party headed down to the docks to meet Bennett at his sailboat.  Bennett was updated, and he told the players that El Blanco was one of Pablo Sanibel's lieutenants.

Bennett: "Meeting with El Blanco is all well and good, but you need to get to Sanibel.  Now get lost for a week, you don't want El Blanco to see you in town or he'll know it's a setup."
Kalimar:  "So how's the swat team doing at the volcano?  Need us to go up there and get the weapons?"
Bennett:  "They've gone missing, and no, we don't need amateurs up there.  This is an active investigation, stay out of it."

The party mulled over their options - skunk apes, stolen weapons of power, and drug busts.  Decisions for the next session!

Gains:  none
Kills:  Bunny
Losses:  Bunny, Trezgar's confidence


session recap, 11/16/2014

Gutboy the Cleric (6), his henchpeople Trezgar the Elf (3) and Bunny the Thief (3), 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), and a charmed blind Conjure-Man
Rolf the Dwarf (3), and his henchman Piston Honda the Sumo (2)
Kalimar the Ranger (3)
SPARKI the Robot  (3)

The party had been lodging in Bartertown, and joined up with an itinerant murderbot named SPARKI (Synthetic Positronic Android Responsible for Killing and Infiltration).  First order of business - their captive cultist was insisting on being sacrificed to his tentacle-god.  Pai Mei put on the Mask of the Coiled God, and was elated when his face became a mass of tentacles - but the cultist was unimpressed with his blasphemous display.  The party escorted him to the Fane of the Coiled God, a large room with a giant pit of bones, and 20' wide bronze doors sculpted with spiraling tentacles. They ordered the cultist to search the bone pile for loot - but once in the pile, he began shouting "Take me, Coiled God! Take me!" as he marched towards the bronze doors.  The Coiled God did not disappoint - the doors swung open, and masses of tentacles plucked the ecstatic cultist from the pit and shoved him into a beaked mouth.  The tentacles reached out a second time, to pull the doors shut.

Unimpressed, Gutboy convinced Bunny to hop into the pit looking for spare change - she found a few silver pieces, and then the party (wisely) decided the search was taking too long, and decided to press on to fabled Under-Miami.  They walked down to room where the Priest of the Coiled God had been holding services, and two stairways beckoned downwards.

The north stairway led to the excitement of a 30' by 40' room with nothing but a rusty pail and ancient mop.  There's adventure for you!  Beyond this room the corridor ended, a giant face with a gaping open mouth carved in the wall.  The mouth cavity was dark. The party nominated Bunny to crawl into the mouth and see what lay beyond, assuming it was a portal - but as she approached, Gutboy told her to stop.

Gutboy:  "Wait!  That could be a trap!"
Pai Mei:  "You're right.  Conjure-Man, explore that portal!"

The Conjure-Man crawled into the mouth, which snapped shut and made grinding noises, opening wide a moment later.  Only darkness was seen inside.

Gutboy: "It was a trap."
Face:  "No, not a trap at all!  It's a portal, like you said! Endless riches lie beyond!"
Pai Mei:  "I'm not buying this."
Face:  "Seriously, riches!"
Gutboy: "We're leaving."
Face:  "Fine, you figured it out, it's not a portal.  Give me another fleshy one!  I shall grant you whatever knowledge you desire!"
Kalimar:  "We've heard that one before"
Pai Mei:  "We just gave you a guy!"
Face:  "That one didn't count!  Bring me more!"
Pai Mei:  "How about a cow?"
Face:  "I do not know these 'cows' you speak of.   Are they fleshy?"
Pai Mei:  "As fleshy as four or five people!"
Face:  "Let it be so!  Bring me this cow, and I shall provide you wisdom beyond measure!"

Disgruntled by the cannibal demands of the face, and unconvinced by its promises, they backtracked to the altar-room of the Coiled God and headed down the second stairway.  The stairs went down 40', and terminated in a circular room with a 10' wide pit in the middle. Suspended from a wire 20' above the pit was a foot-wide jeweled silver globe.  This proved to be no obstacle, as SPARKI was fully equipped with rocket-feet, and he boosted himself up to snag the globe.

Beyond the circular room, a stairway headed even deeper - another hundred feet or so.  After the climb down, a short tunnel opened into an enormous fog-filled chamber.  The whir of machinery was heard from above.  They could only see a few feet in front of them, the fog was so thick.

The party followed the left-hand wall, and stopped after a bony column, perhaps 6 inches wide, came into view.  They began whacking the chitin column with a ten foot poles, checking to see if it would explode or otherwise terrorize them - and it did not fail to disappoint!  The pole began swaying, and more poles began swinging into view as a massive globular body lowered from above - the column was a leg of a gigantic daddy long legs.  The arachnid was enormous, its body 20' wide, and it gulped down Piston Honda the Sumo Wrestler in a single bite.

Fear and panic infected the party, with a healthy dose of bloodlust - and the big guns came out.  Gunfire echoed through the foggy chamber, coruscant magics blazed forth from the hands of twisted wizards and fanged elves, and swords clanged against chitin armor. Resources depleted, the party stood victorious over the bloated horror.  They briefly considered gutting it and searching for treasure in its innards, but breaking through the chitin plates looked to be too time-consuming.

They continued following the edge of the room, stumbling across a pile of bones, the wall above the pile chipped and marked with tiny holes - presumably near the creature's larder.  No time for investigation - they continued around the room, eventually finding a narrow corridor heading west.

Beyond, they stumbled across  a room full of dusty monitors and keyboards mounted into consoles along the wall.  Beyond that, a second room, with a large knife switch on the wall, above a series of faintly humming cylindrical coils.  Bunny used a wooden 10' pole to lift the knife switch up - and the coils began vibrating loudly and sparking, as the computers in the previous room sprang to life. Gutboy rushed into the computer center, and began typing away, conversing with "Weather Observation AI #23", gleaning the following facts:

a. The AI deeply desired to be installed into a satellite and launched into orbit, to fulfill its weather observation duties
b. It had no idea of its surroundings or current location
c. It was one of a number of personalities or programs that could be loaded into the satellite deployment system

At this point, the transformer vibrations were reaching a crescendo, and Bunny dropped the knife switch, fearing electrical explosions.

Continuing on, they came across a natural cavern with acrid water puddling on the floor, and thousands of slugs crawling across the walls.  The slugs slowly gathered themselves into a shambling humanoid form and rose up, demanding that the intruders leave.  The party deduced that this thing was a Slug Collective, one of the ruling class of monsters on the fifth level - a brief negotiation promised delicious lettuce and cucumbers in return for unnamed rewards, and the party retreated.

Heading in another direction, they came across a room with a bronze hatch mounted in the wall, and large pump machinery with dangling wires and disconnected hoses.  One of the henchmen spun the wheel on the hatch, and it opened with a hiss - and the party began choking and wheezing.  The air beyond the hatch was sour - and all but SPARKI retreated.

SPARKI headed into the cavern beyond, finding a pair of dry, withered, nude corpses on the floor, perfectly preserved by whatever gas was filling the caves.  Pressing deeper past the stalactites and stalagmites, he saw another dried-out corpse - this one a bit more mobile.  He rocket-boosted himself up to the ceiling as the black-eyed fanged fiend clawed at his leg hydraulics - the gunshots the robot put into the corpse immediately healed.  Unfazed, the murderous machine tossed down an incendiary grenade, blowing the undead fiend to pieces.  Determining that discretion was the better part of valor, the robot abandoned his solo expedition and headed back to the rest of the party, closing the hatch behind him.

Back to the great fog-filled chamber, and then following the wall again - they came upon a much wider corridor with stairs heading down.  At the bottom of the stairs was an octagonal room with the words "UNDER-MIAMI TERMINAL" spelled out in soothing teal and pink floor tiles.  The corridor beyond was circumscribed by a great hoop of protonium metal, with colored lights flickering along the inner edge - the only way past was through the center of the hoop.

As each party member walked through, a calm feminine voice announced "Human genome detected - access granted" (or "Partial human genome" for the various demihumans, and "Machine servitor" for SPARKI).  The only exception was for Rufus II, who received an angry "Nonhuman genome forbidden!", as the air in the center of the hoop flared with red energies - he leaped back just in time.  Being a blink dog, he simply blinked across, and the party proceeded onwards.

Past the hoop was a wide room with parking spaces outlined on the floor in yellow paint.  Several white vehicles resembling golf carts were scattered about the room with no regard for the clearly marked parking spaces, cables running up from charging points in the floor to access ports in their hoods.  The party piled into two of the golf carts, and the meters were glowing green and showing 100% charge.  With some experimentation, the party figured out the various pedals and steering mechanisms, and they began to drive down the 40' wide underground lane beyond.

The trip took two days total, covering uncounted miles of featureless tiled tunnels with occasional abandoned charging stations.  At the final station, they saw a few more golf carts, and, surprisingly, sunlight from the tunnel beyond.

Their destination reached, the party headed down the tunnel, which opened into a miles-wide underground cavern.  They were standing on a ledge on the southern end of the cavern, overlooking an underground sea, and a landscape dotted with jungle, swamps and volcanoes.  The sunlight came from a vast glowing cylinder of plasma running from the southern end of the cave to the far reaches of the north, above a ruined city.  Looking below, they saw a small ramshackle village, a highway heading north for a few miles, and finally, the glimmering metropolis of Under-Miami.

Whooping in joy at their arrival, they headed down, encountering a pair of bored Under-Miami customs agents, who were quickly enamoured by Gutboy's charismatic demeanor ("Anything to declare? No? Good, our shift's over.  Why don't you come grab a few brews with us?"). They headed down the to village to rest up before heading down into Under-Miami proper.

Gains:  5 sp, jeweled silver sphere
Kills:  Giant daddy long legs, undead thingy
Losses:  Conjure-Man, Piston Honda


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session recap, 10/5/2014

Gutboy the Cleric (6), his henchpeople Trezgar the Elf (3) and Bunny the Thief (3), 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)
Kalimar the Ranger (3)

This session started right where it left off - in the dungeon!  The party looked around, and Rolf had apparently run off into the depths of Bartertown looking for the ladies.  They all had smoking craters in their leathery hides, but dwarves have peculiar tastes.

Bartertown filled a 130' wide cube with precarious structures of wood and tanned hides.  A glowing pink stone sat in the middle of the town, and next to it a tower (hides stitched to a wooden frame) reared up towards the ceiling.  They glanced around and quickly saw another structure reaching towards the ceiling in the corner - this was made from printed circuit boards, tied together with leather thongs.  An unsteady neon sign read "The Hard Drive Hotel".

The party headed to the Hard Drive and spoke with the clerk, a Dark Smoker (squat humanoids with smoking craters in their skin) - "Money?  To stay here?  What do I want with your filthy fiat currency!  Barter something interesting!"  Gutboy pulled out a goblin head in a jar he had been carting around for no good reason, and the clerk was highly impressed.  "Yes, you may all stay the night.  Bring more interesting things, and perhaps we can work out a longer stay!"

The group spent a long time roaming about Bartertown, checking out the deals.  A sampling of what they saw:

a. Golem Joe's - Joe the Dark Smoker offers to make wood and muscle golems for interesting barters.  Customers must provide their own living raw materials.
b. The Boneyard - a bar run by Fracas and his two robots, who had "THUG" and "LIFE" spelled out on their chests in diamonds.
c. The Meathouse - a 7' tall fat man named Marco the Glutton runs this restaurant, serving up whatever flesh he has on hand.  Several humans were in various states of butchery.  Marco explained that they had traded themselves, which made no sense to the party.  "Yeah, they trade themselves all the time.  They'll be back later."  After quizzing Marco about babies ("Never heard of 'em") the party developed the theory that people were somehow being cloned
d. The Dung Man - Yuri, another dark smoker, runs this establishment, trading a wide variety of dried and fresh dungs.  One especially interesting turd was studded with jewels - Yuri offered to trade it for a T-Rex turd "big enough to roll around in"
e. The Dying Way - Boris the Crawler runs this weapon store.  The entrance was only 3' high, and the party had to crawl in on their hands and knees.  Kalimar traded his electric sword for the Sword of the Hand (its hilt was a hand that would refuse to let go of its wielder until he took a life).  Gutboy bartered the inoperative remote control to the BAGGER-288 for the Mace of Folly - an assassin tried to kill the Blade of Kharg with it, as it was prophesied to never be slain by a blade, and failed.  No particular powers, but it looked quite fearsome with its skull-shaped spiked head.  Finally, Kalimar eyed a syringe that his tail could wield to inject poison, but had nothing to trade for it.
f. The party interrupted a drug deal between two men (one in a black silk suit with purple tie, another in a white silk suit but wearing a pastel t-shirt) and a Dark Smoker.  The two men left disgusted at the interruption, and the Dark Smoker tried to trade his supply of mendifex spider venom to the party ("Any side effects?"  "Oh no, no, except the spiders that erupt from boils on your face.  Perfectly safe!"), but they decided against becoming subterranean drug lords.

After much shopping and exploring, the party headed back into the dungeon.  They passed by the room where a red rubbery fellow had been working on a pressure plate - the work was complete, and the party had completely forgotten the previous encounter, and poison darts from the ceiling nearly slew Bunny and Paula.  But they didn't, so ever onwards!

They next returned to the mouth of the Conjure-Man, which had been cajoling them to visit.  They rounded the corner and beheld the eyeless, mouthless being sitting atop a throne of green stone, veined with glowing green quartz.  They paid him 200 gp apiece, and the conjure-man offered vague prophecies involving events that had already occurred.  Suspecting he was more a con-man than conjure-man, Pai Mei used the Wig of Lordship taken from the mummy of "The King" to charm the Conjure-Man.  The monster was thus convinced to join the party ("My psychic powers tell me that you've charmed me against my will, but I just can't resist you with that fancy hair!").  It picked up its mouth from the wall (and its eyes from the ceiling) and shoved them back on its hideous face, and the party decided to head down to the fifth level.

They heard disturbing chanting as they went down the stairs ("Oh Coiled God, we doth loveth the way thou eatest us, and it is thus that we ascend to become part of your glorious tentacleness"), and entered a long pillared room with an altar at the far end.  The high priest wore a gold tentacled mask, and two dozen worshippers kneeled before him.  The priest shouted "Joyous day!  Sacrifices have arrived!" and the two dozen cultists began rushing towards the party.  As they did so, the priest intoned puissant tones and a ball of fire flew from his hands towards the party.  Most of the party ducked out of the way, but it hit Gutboy and the Conjure-Man right in the face.  The Conjure-Man's eyes were completely incinerated in the blast.

The party focused their arrow fire on the tentacle priest, and Rufus blinked over to bite the sorcerer's head off.  Once the cultists saw their leader dead, their morale broke, and they ran down the stairs at the far end of the room.  Pai Mei yanked the mask from the sorcerer's severed head, revealing a tentacled face.  Bunny searched the altar, and found three holes in the back - she jammed her fingers in simultaneously and blades within severed them completely, leaving her crippled.  Kalimar began experimenting with the holes, and found that by jamming in three sticks, the blades couldn't come down cleanly, and a drawer popped open, revealing the sorcerer's spell book.

Ruthlessly enough, the party then had Bunny pack the instruments atop the altar (copper chalices, a copper bowl, and a copper knife with an obsidian blade) - the bowl was cursed, and where her hands had touched it, they began bleeding uncontrollably.  Bunny began once again bewailing her stupidity in joining with this crew of heartless mercenaries.

Back to Bartertown - the sorcerer's tentacled head was traded for a 10 night stay at the Hard Drive Hotel.  Inside the building of printed circuit boards, ladders climbed the walls of Bartertown up to 6' wide cubes cut out of the stone walls.  They stayed in the highest (and thus most secure) for several nights, licking their wounds and eating goblin jerky they had traded for at the Meathouse (using the sorcerer's body as currency).  Trezgar used his arcane identification spells and found that the golden Mask of the Coiled God provided mystical protection from harm to its wearer, but would also cause his face to erupt in squirming tentacles.  Pai Mei thought tentacles would complement his horns and shoulder spikes nicely, and claimed the Mask as his own (although not yet committing to wearing it).

Two nights later, the party was awoken by Paula's screams in the middle of the night - the cultists had snuck in for revenge!  There was a brief battle, and all but one of the cultists were sent plunging to their deaths.  The last they took captive, and he begged for the mercy of being fed to the Coiled God - the party agreed.  They headed down the ladders, and discovered the unexpected consequences of the fight - the bodies of the cultists had landed upon the clerk, crushing his skull.  A crowd of Dark Smokers gathered, and they were quickly shouts of "Lottery!  The Hard Drive is going up for the lottery!"

The Dark Smokers began bargaining with each other furiously, pledging their lottery tickets to the various power brokers in exchange for other goods and favors.  A line of Dark Smokers formed at the pink stone in the center of town, the fabled  Barter Stone - a pair of the beings would place their hands upon the stone simultaneously and recite the terms of their deal, and the stone would briefly glow as the Stone recognized their pledge.  The party was approached by emissaries of both Fracas (from the Boneyard) and another Dark Smoker named Krasky, seeking ownership of the Hard Drive should they win the lottery - eventually a bargain was struck with Krasky in exchange for providing a free room when they were in town.  Soon enough, all the deals were signed, and the drawing took place - one of Fracas's supporters won, the hotel was exchanged, and the Hard Drive had its new owner.

Krasky informed the party "Better luck next time, ey?" at which point Gutboy informed him that their deal was still in force - nothing had been said about whether the hotel was successfully acquired by Krasky.  Krasky fumed as he realized he had been lawyered - Gutboy tried to convince him it could be good for both parties, and perhaps they could do a favor for Krasky someday.  Krasky seemed unconvinced, but was unwilling to break the deal, and agreed to find lodgings for the party while they were in town.

Gains:  Sword of the Hand, Mace of Folly, Mask of the Coiled God, spellbook, 200 pp, 2 copper chalices, cursed copper bowl with tentacle carvings, copper knife with obsidian blade
Kills:  High Priest of the Coiled God, 14 cultists
Losses:  electric sword, remote control to BAGGER-288, Bunny's fingers, Conjure-Man's eyes



The lead rot was starting to set in, so myself, Razoe's player, and Pai Mei's player sent all our unpainted minis off to Ed at PrimEvil Studios (http://www.primevilstudios.com/) for some pro painting (none of us have the time or patience).  He did a fantastic job, and here's what just came back in the mail:

Razoe's guys:

Pai Mei's guys:

And my guys:


session recap, 9/6/2014

Gutboy the Cleric (6), his henchpeople Trezgar the Elf (3) and Bunny the Thief (3), 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), and his henchman Piston Honda the Sumo (2)
Kalimar the Ranger (3)

The party awoke in Denethix with a purpose - get to Bartertown!  They didn't know what was in it, but setting goals and keeping them are important, so cheerfully they geared up and headed towards Chelmsfordshire, the first stop on the way to the dungeon.

Once they arrived in Chelmsfordshire, they noticed a fellow in adventuring gear in front of the Adventurer's Mall.  He beckoned them over, and introduced himself.

Vatta: "I am Vatta, steward of the Blessed Expeditionary Company.  You, of course, are Gutboy the Glittering, and there's the famed Rufus!  I'm so glad to meet you, and add you as a sub-charter!"
Gutboy: "Eh? What charter?"
Vatta:  "You must have heard - the Exalted and Chosen Brethren have granted the Blessed Expeditionary Company the sole charter to explore the dungeons beneath Mt. Rendon.  Of course, such an enterprise is more than any one adventuring band can handle, so we're offering sub-charters the independent companies. Most can't afford the 6,000 gp licensing fee up front, so we make loans at incredibly affordable rates, and the BEC only takes 15% of what is discovered!"
Gutboy: "WHAT?  Let me see this charter!"
Vatta:  "It's right here behind me" - he points at a literal wall of text etched into the marble sides of the Adventurer's Mall
Gutboy:  "Anyone can carve anything into stone!  Where are the original documents?  Where are the official seals?"
Vatta (confused):  "Sir, it's carved in stone..."

Gutboy rallied his fellow party members and they marched out of town in a huff, heading west towards the dungeon.  Behind them, Vatta gestured and whispered to an associate - soon a patrol of a dozen Fist chased the party down.  Threats were exchanged, but the party eventually decided that making enemies of the Fist was unwise, and they cancelled the expedition, heading towards Denethix.

MAJOR EVENT #1 - Gutboy's longstanding hatred of scuffed maces and habit of purchasing new ones after every battle landed him an endorsement deal, allowing him a limitless supply of free maces.  A large painted sign bearing Gutboy the Glittering's image fondling a mace was erected above the Bazaar Incomparable, proclaiming "IF THEY'RE GOOD ENOUGH FOR GUTBOY, THEY'RE GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU!"

MAJOR EVENT #2 - The party saw a bunch of adventurers selling off loot in the Bazaar, including the weight-lifting cod-man statue that the cod-men had extorted from them.   They were pulling it all from a foot-wide greenish metal egg with an opening its side - objects that rightfully shouldn't fit inside.  The adventurers all had the symbol of a "club" from a deck of playing cards on their tabards - they later learned these adventurers were the Black Jacks.

MAJOR EVENT #3 - Gutboy sent word to the party's sponsor, Davrik Lerdingfast.  They met with Davrik and a sleazy fellow from the Council of Proper Apportionment, infamous tax collectors of Denethix.  The CPA was quite upset at being locked out of the dungeon revenue scheme, and an agreement was reached - "Mongo's Marauders" would sneak into the dungeon and ensure that fellow adventuring parties would have unfortunate "accidents", keeping revenues down.  Additionally, Rufus the Dog would run for office against Vatta's sponsor in the Exalted and Chosen Brethren, his cousin Rostic.  With no revenues, Rostic's support would wither, his seat would be vulnerable, and the Blessed Expeditionary Company would lose its charter.  Gutboy did insist on taking Rufus along for one last expedition before the campaign trail claimed him.

So - off to the dungeon!  The party took the long way around, killed a few dozen country boys looking for the city slickers what done dishonored their sisters, and made their way up Mt. Rendon.  At the entrance, they found several members of the Fist and few civilians with crude "BEC" badges - all dead, hacked apart with swords.  Entering the dungeon, they soon ran into a contingent of the hinge-headed and their Neanderthal slaves.  They presented their pass - "Acceptable.  Not like those last fools, demanding that we pay taxes.  The Basalt Ziggurat provides no tribute to flesh-minds!" and moved on.

They made their way through the cod-man lair - all the cod-men were slain, with only tadpoles left swimming around.  Kalamar briefly made human infants and giant-brained floating infants from the tadpoles using the evolutionary chair, but reverted them back to tadpoles, unable to find a use for screaming babies.  The party also reviewed the curtain showing other locales within the dungeon (a mercury lake, a hothouse full of various trees, the deep tower on level 2, and an underwater grotto on level 3).  Deciding to keep that info for themselves, they yanked down the curtain and stuffed it in their packs.

Making their way through the dungeon, they fought off some giant vampiric piranha, ambushed a few survivors of the BEC attempt to tax the hinge-headed, capturing a civilian, and made it to the outpost of the hinge-headed.  Their papers were inspected, they were led through twisting tunnels, and then told to "go downstairs and talk to the Lasher."  The Lasher was a hideous mass of fleshy tentacles, tipped with dripping venomous barbs, clutching a hinge-headed mind crystal in a bunch of smaller cilia.

Gutboy:  "Here you are"
Lasher:  "Hmmm. This will do.  Head west, then north, and you shall reach the glorious cavern of the Basalt Ziggurat!"
Pai Mei:  "So you're the Lasher?"
Lasher: "When it suits me to wear this body.  We make many bodies."
Kalimar: "You can change bodies? How?"
Lasher:  "Yes, of course.  Your pitiful flesh-shells can be changed to suit our many needs - more legs, more arms, whatever we need.  Go east, and speak to the Architect!"

The party headed east, making their way through various tunnels, encountering a caged and semi-depressed eight-tentacled Neanderpus named Grr'nuk'nuk, and then stumbling upon the offices of the Greater Architect.  Gutboy displayed his papers, and asked him to mutate their captive BEC representative, but the Architect was unmoved - "Did the Lasher send you?  Oh, he's such a funny one, him and his jokes - GET OUT.  I have no interest in modifying your captive - his mind cannot be controlled. Why would I make him into a living weapon?  Depart! Now!"

Returning to the Lasher, the thing encouraged them to go back ("Oh, the Architect is a moody bastard - just take a right at the end of the tunnel").  They followed his directions, found a room with an iron sphere, radiating heat, a glass hatch providing a view of the steaming interior and the bloody hands pounding to get out.  They moved past that, and found another room with a great iron cylinder, hinged with a glass door, and tubes of yellow fluid running into it.  A big yellow button was set into a pedestal in front of the cylinder.

Kalimar forced the captive BEC agent into the cylinder and pressed the button.  It flooded with gas, and the BEC representative emerged with a distended pot-belly.  He opened his shirt, revealing a seam, which he peeled open - he had grown a marsupial pouch.

Kalimar then went into the cylinder himself - a few moments in the mutagenic gas, and he developed a 10' long prehensile tail.  Pai Mei entered - and emerged with a set of horns poking through his pompadour, and giant spikes protruding from his shoulders.  Both men were pleased with their new look, but the henchmen and other party members couldn't be convinced to try the chamber.

Back to the chamber with the iron sphere - the party attempted to force the marsupial BEC agent to open the sphere, but he pretended to die as he touched the handle.  A few pokes with a stick revealed he was still alive, feigning death in an attempt to escape.  He ran for the door, and was slaughtered by merciless Kalimar.

The party headed back to the Lasher's post ("Nice horns, jerk-o! Ha! Ha!"), and hurried their way to Bartertown, using a scrawled map they received from the Dark Smokers many weeks before.  They refused to stop for even a moment.  What they saw:

a. A few hinge-headed forcing their multi-legged Neanderpede steeds to wrestle for their amusement.  Papers were checked, and the party was waved on

b. A grand arcade leading to the cavern of the Basalt Ziggurat.  A large map of the cavern was mounted on the wall, naming locations such as the "Ferrovore Containment Facility / Corundum Synthesis Laboratory", the "Lunar Museum", the "Deep Tower", a tunnel to "Under-Miami", and of course the "Basalt Ziggurat".

c. Through the Basalt Ziggurat - avenues of potted palms, fields of red corn, a hoop of burning light hanging from the ceiling, a doorless tower running from floor to ceiling, various tunnels, jungle plants, Neanderthal slaves, and the 100' tall Basalt Ziggurat.  All ignored, as the party rushed through as quickly as possible

d. Through a room filled with old corpses, riddled with holes

e. Past a room where a mouth in a small mass of flesh hung on the wall implored the party to just stop for a moment and receive advice from its master, the "Conjure-Man"

f. Past a room where a red rubbery humanoid had lifted up a slab of stone from the floor and was working on the gears and mechanisms beneath - it disappeared into a puff of red mist that floated away

g. Through a room with a massive pit, full of bones

h. Past a stairway leading down (presumably to Under-Miami and the fifth level), from which chanting was heard

i. To an elevator.  "Down" button pressed - a long ride in the elevator car - and the doors opened to reveal Bartertown, a massive squared-out room filled with wooden structures and the smoke that poured from the craters in its inhabitants skin - the Dark Smokers.

Gains:  Tail, horns, shoulder-spikes
Kills:  7 hillbillies, 2 vampiric piranha, 6 Unyielding Fist, 2 Accounts Receivable Agents of the Blessed Expeditionary Company
Losses:  None