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!
Losses: Bunny, Trezgar's confidence