Pai Mei the Wu-Jen (4), and his henchpeople Barbara the Scientist (2), "The Doctor" the Time Lord (2), and "Crusty" Tim the Fighter (2)
Simon the Halfling (3), and his henchbeings BW-5891 the Robot (2) and an Unnamed Mariner (2)
A Dwarf (3), and his henchmen Nvaran Azimuth the Thief (2) and Piston Honda the Sumo (2)
[editor's note - a character sheet went home with a player. The dwarf's name is thus forgotten]
A dwarf, a halfling, and a wu-jen go into a bar. What better place to find idiots willing to sacrifice life and limb for a half-share of the loot? Only the drunk and desperate need apply. The interview process went something like this:
Geisha to Simon: "My eyes are up here, you little bastard!" (slap)
Geisha to Dwarf: "I don't even need a reason to slap you." (slap)
Pai Mei to Randolph Carter the Dreamer: "So, where are you from, and what do you bring to the table?"
Randolph Carter: "I have been trapped here in this land of slumber, unable to awaken. I bring the lucidity and clarity of dreams!"
Pai Mei: "NEXT"
Dwarf to one-footed thief: "Pass."
One-footed thief: "Discrimination!"
Simon to Unnamed Mariner: "And what can you do for us?"
Unnamed Mariner: "I bring the knowledge of the sea! Endless ways to apply that to dungeoneering, cap'n!"
Simon (eyeing the other pitiful dregs looking for work): "Close enough. Hired!"
Pai Mei to guy in long overcoat and crazy-long scarf: "All right, what's your story?"
The Doctor: "You can call me the Doctor. I'm trapped in this temporal zone, but not even the local tachyon atmosphere can entirely diminish my perceptions."
Pai Mei: "Hired!"
Nvaran Azimuth to Dwarf: "Sure, I can go underground, no problem - just get me out of the city! The Fist knows my face!"
Dwarf to Nvaran Azimuth the not-handicapped-thief: "Hired!"
Disappointed with the quality of henchmen, the party began a pub crawl looking for more. Pickings were slim, as press gangs had rounded up most everyone for the just-ended Great Zombie War. They did discover a robot, a scientist busy scrubbing it's bearings, and an old man in plate mail.
Barbara the Scientist to Simon: "You disgust me!"
BW-5891 the Robot to Simon: "I LOVE YOU!"
"Crusty" Tim the nonagenarian Fighter to Pai Mei: "I like the cut of your jib, sonny! I'll be dead soon anyway, let's go!"
The bizarre crew headed off to the dungeon, passing through the burned wreckage of Chelmsfordshire. A city official tutted as them they passed, and remarked to one of the Unyielding Fist accompanying him, "We need to rebuild this place double-time. Look, revenue just walking away!"
While camped overnight, a moaning was heard - three zombie Moktars, undoubtedly victims of the war, shambled into their camp. The fight was brief, but "Crusty" Tim took a hit to the noggin and was knocked out cold. Unwilling to enter the dungeon so weakened, the party headed back to Denethix to wait for "Crusty" Tim to recover from his wound. Nvaran put a burlap bag over his head, and told the Dwarf to tell anyone who asked that he was just a slave.
A week passes - "Crusty" Tim is as ready as he'll ever be - and back to the dungeon they go, this time uneventfully. Once inside, the party decides to revisit a chamber with a balcony overlooking a swirling pool of water - but are stopped on the way by a pair of charred corpses. As the corpses take wounds, jets of flame shoot from the hot coals within their bodies. The burning corpses crush "Crusty" Tim's ancient bones and tear apart BW-5891's hydraulics before they are laid to rest.
With no medical assistance available ("Barbara - can you help Tim? You're a scientist!" "No way, he's all sticky! Disgusting!"), Tim bleeds out. The robot is too heavy to drag around, so Barbara attempted to remove its head, to be attached to another body at a later date. Sadly, she didn't pay much attention in her robotics class, and the machine's lithium battery pack bursts into flames as the light in its eyes faded away. The robot's last words were, "I... LOVE.... YOU...." to its beloved master.
There is no place for sentimentality in the dungeon, though, and the party continued on to the whirlpool room. Pai Mei, expecting great things from Simon's unnamed Mariner, demanded to know what could cause such aquatic phenomena. The Mariner thought for a bit, and exclaimed "Oh yeah, I've seen that before! That's how toilets swirl around!" This epiphany did not convince Pai Mei.
And deeper into the dungeon - past the Cod Men, who apparently blamed the Hinge-Headed for the looting of their temple, and demanded that the party go forth and slay the can-headed invaders. The party smiled politely and agreed, but the Cod-Men were unwilling to send any of their own to aid this effort. After their fishy allies were out of earshot, the party decided to head down to the 4th level in search of gold, instead.
Down they went, past Bathakrog the Last of the Toothmen, past the laser trap, and down to the 4th level. They opened a secret door, discovering a large chamber with a walled central portion - the walls entirely covered with murals of crowds of people adoring a beloved king with a pompadour and a sneer. Two bas reliefs at either end of the walled central portion depicted the king's face - the party pressed on all four eyes simultaneously, and the sneering faces slid upwards, revealing entrances into a secret tomb.
Within the tomb was a sarcophagus surrounded by eight canopic jars, with the lids carved into ape faces and covered with gold leaf. Pai Mei sent Barbara in to investigate - she picked up a jar, and its lid flew off - as did the lids from the rest of the jars. Clouds of smoke and ash flew out, coalescing into angry floating smoke-chimps. Barbara dropped the jar and tried to flee, and the party took some pot-shots at one of the chimps - the arrows split its belly open, revealing red-hot charcoal intestines. The chimp disemboweled itself and used its flaming intestines to lasso Barbara's neck and haul her back into the room, where the ash apes rended her limb from limb.
In a panic, the party fled back through the secret door and slid it closed. The smoke chimps had no idea how to open it, and eventually the noise from the other side died down. Piston Honda slid the door open, and saw that the chamber was deserted. The party looked into the tomb again, and all the jars were closed except for the broken one, whose shards were covered with a pile of ash. They cautiously pulled the sneering faces back down over the openings, and decided to investigate some of the other doors leading out of the outer chamber.
They heard the noises of a party coming from beyond a pair of large double doors (shouts of "Chug! Chug!" and voices drunkenly singing "Louie Louie") - Piston Honda peaked behind the doors, and reported that a half dozen werewolves or so were getting wasted. They carefully closed that door, and investigated another. Piston Honda peaked in, and saw four naked men among a pile of furs, refuse, and their own excrement. One of them yanked open the door, saying "Well, don't you just look delicious."
Simon was not fooled by their innuendo, and suspected cannibalistic werewolfism rather than an invitation to hook up - he put his theory to the test with a silver bullet through the closest man. "Dammit! They got silver!" the man shouted, as Piston Honda yanked the door closed. Pai Mei then rattled off a powerful incantation to lock the door in place. The werewolves behind screamed and battered at the door, but the party down the hall was too loud for them to be heard.
The group realized they only had 3 silver bullets left, and were woefully unprepared for a fight with werewolves. They headed back up to the third level, investigated a subterranean lake on their map and realized they didn't have a boat either, and then gave up and returned to town, vowing to be better prepared with silver weapons and/or boats on their next visit.
Gains: Absolutely none
Kills: Three moktar zombies, two charred zombies
Losses: BW-5891 the Robot, Barbara the Scientist, "Crusty" Time the Fighter