Pai Mei the Wu-Jen (6)
Rolf the Dwarf (5)
Gutboy the Cleric (7) and his henchdog Rufus II
S.P.A.R.K.I. the Robot (3)
[in a prior adventure, White Plume Mountain was raided for a third time, and Whelm acquired. The dwarven hammer was too big a temptation for Rolf, and the party returned to Under-Miami claiming they failed to retrieve it. The illicitly acquired weapon was host to an artificial intelligence determined to exterminate all space aliens - the only weakness being the crippling fear of the vulnerable, alien-infested skies it instilled in its bearer. Mindy the Gynosphinx committed suicide, finally ridding herself of her hated lion body, and returned brandishing her diary and demanding her share of the loot. She then stormed off in a huff, refusing to adventure further with the band of murder-hobos]
The party sat around their apartment in Under-Miami, desperate for something to do. Discussions were had, and out of nowhere the crew (including long-absent robot S.P.A.R.K.I.) determined to head to Monster Island out in Biscayne Bay and seek the famed black pearl that all the tourist brochures went on and on about. While Kalimar was absent, his "friends" remembered he had purchased a 30' Boston Whaler, and decided to "borrow" it for the trip out to the Godzilla-infested island.
The trip took several hours, and was uneventful. The island itself was surrounded by cliffs and dangerous reefs, the only approachable section being a cluster of native villages on a peninsula at the southern end, cut off from the main island by 200' tall wooden wall. The party motored towards the village docks - as they did so, Rolf tossed a grenade overboard, trying to impress the local fishermen with his weapon of mass fishing. The tactic worked - vast quantities of tuna and yellowtail floated to the surface, dead, along with a now-deceased mermaid. The fisherman excitedly brought out their nets and rowed out to bring in the harvest.
They tied off at the dock, next to a modern-looking pontoon boat with a shattered aluminum pontoon. As they examined this second boat suspiciously, the chief of the Elk tribe ran out to meet them. He explained that just yesterday, a group wearing "Blessed Expeditionary Company" had arrived on the damaged boat and headed inland to claim the fabled black pearl for their own. Disgruntled by the appearance of rivals, the party followed the chief towards the village, with S.P.A.R.K.I. taking a moment to peel scrap metal from the pontoon boat for future repairs to his battle-worn chassis.
Elk Chief: "Welcome! Such a bounty you have brought! We shall have a feast in your honor tonight! Look at all the fish! And a mermaid! It's so nice to not have to resort to cannibalism!"
Gutboy: "So, we're looking for the black pearl. Do you know where we can find it?"
Elk Chief: "Well, we've never really seen or heard of it, but all the brochures you mainlanders keep bringing over say it's in the crater of the volcano at the center of our island. Doesn't make a lot of sense to me, what kind of clam lives in a volcano?"
Pai Mei: "Do you come back when you die?"
Elk Chief: "Sure, but not like you mainlanders. When we die, we come back as waiters."
Gutboy: "So are there really monsters on the island?"
Elk Chief: "You bet! Godzillas, rodans, ghidoras, we've got them all! Oh and don't forget the mothras!"
There was a certain amount of confusion and fear, but the party put in their dinner orders (the "surf" end of the "surf'n'turf" - "You heard our guests - a plate of mermaid ass!") and prepared for the feast.
When the time came, the party sat at one of the dozens of tables set around the firepit where the mermaid and fishes roasted. The villagers were wearing the headdresses of their respective tribes - Elk wearing elk heads, Sea Turtles wearing loggerhead skulls, Tigers wearing ferocious preserved tiger heads, and the Hawk tribe with tiny bird heads worn like little fezzes. Their identities were all hidden by their masks (with the exception of the Hawk tribe). Also present were a dozen or so men wearing human skull masks, and the waitstaff were rotting, animated corpses. The zombies brought plates of mermaid butt to the party, leaving greasy diseased corpse-prints all over the sizzling chunks of fish.
Gutboy: "So who are all these people?"
Elk Chief: "All of our tribes - the Elk, the Sea Turtle, the Tiger, and the Hawk tribe."
Gutboy (mishearing): "The hot tribe?"
Elk Chief: "Oh you mean the men in the skull masks? They are our hottest men, but they are not a tribe! They are the zombie masters! Ugh!"
Gutboy: "You don't like them?"
Elk Chief: "Oh no, all that mucking around with corpses, it's horrible! And they are secretive - who knows who could be behind those skull masks? But if we complain, we end up becoming waiters!"
Gutboy had an idea - murder the zombie masters to ingratiate the party with the islanders - and so chugged a potion of ESP and approached one of the zombie masters. The man was ridiculously buff, with oiled muscles and a well-defined six pack.
Gutboy: "So, you guys make zombies?"
Zombie Master: "Oh yeah, somebody's got to be a waiter" [thinking: "Hmm, this guy seems hot! I wonder if he'd come to the zombie master party with me tonight?"
Gutboy: "Wow, how do you become a zombie master?"
Zombie Master: "Only the hottest of men may become masters of undeath! It is a role extended by invitation only"
Gutboy: "I wish I could be a zombie master"
Zombie Master: "You know what? Come to our party tonight! Bring your friends! Look for the torches to the north of the village, they will light the way!" [thinking: "Oh I am going to SCORE" followed by unfamily-friendly mental images, as his grass skirt began to part of their own volition]
Gutboy: "Ummm... right... yes, we'll be there... later..."
After the feast ended, the heroes waited for the torches to be lit beyond the village - and they were, accompanied by the distant sound of pounding bass music. They followed a path cutting through the jungle towards a wide flat plateau, where dozens of well-toned men with skull masks danced feverishly to the beat, singing "EVERYBODY DANCE NOW!", surrounded by a motionless circle of the undead.
Pai Mei, longing for mayhem, instantly began incanting his fireball spell - a bright light flung from his finger towards the dance party - a voice shouted out "Hey look, firewo--" - and then an earth-shattering KABOOM followed by an incandescent mushroom cloud engulfed the plateau. The party-goers and zombies alike were reduced to ash in an instant.
A few minutes later, the Elk chief and a horde of warriors approached, horror in their eyes.
Elk chief: "What have you done? Those were our hottest men!"
Gutboy: "I thought you hated them"
Elk chief: "Look how homely we are now! You will pay for this!"
Pai Mei: "But you can eat them now! Just look at all that sizzling fat!"
Elk chief: "Fat? Seriously? Do you know how good their BMIs were?"
Thinking fast, Pai Mei lowered his hood, revealing the glorious pompadour he had stolen from the corpse of Elvis. The Elk chief fell to his knees, thoroughly dominated by the puissant hairdo.
Elk chief: "It is he! The one who was prophesied to release us from the rule of the Zombie masters, and then wander out of the village to die in the jungle! All hail he of the glorious hair!"
Warriors: "Uhh???? Chief? What prophecy?"
Elk chief: "Silence! Obey our master!"
The warriors, muttering, angry, and confused, obeyed their chief.
Gutboy: "You must come with us to retrieve the black pearl!"
Elk chief: "Shut up, you. We serve the one with the hair! Our prophesied master!"
Pai Mei: "What he said. Come with us."
Elk chief: "I am old and would slow you down. Take my warriors!"
Pai Mei: "Yeah sure, why not."
Four warriors were "volunteered" to join the heroes on their voyage inland. As soon as dawn broke, the crew headed into the jungle, passing through the 200' high palisade. They hiked all day, passing a lake of bubbling tar, with a post used for tying sacrifices to the "Kongs", and camped in the foothills of the volcano.
After dark, the party saw torches in the distance to the north - they were not alone. Gutboy ordered Rufus to investigate, while S.P.A.R.K.I. joked "Wait, what if they're cat people? Wouldn't that be funny?" Alas, they WERE a wandering band of cat people, and only tragedy, not comedy, ensued.
There was furious barking from the direction of the torches, and the torches began moving erratically. Then canine yipping, followed by feline yowling, coming closer - Rufus blinked into view, and three sabre-tooth tigers ridden by humanoid cat-men burst into the party's camp. One of the tigers bit into Rufus's neck and shook him like a rag doll, while another slew one of the village warriors, and the third leaped at Gutboy. Magic missiles flew, the mighty hammer Whelm was thrown, and drowsy insects nibbled at the warriors, putting them into a deep sleep. It was for naught - Rufus was dead, slain by his natural enemy, a cat.
No time for mourning - the party was then rushed by the remaining cat people, running on foot. Pai Mei sent a fireball into them, killing all but one, and then he used the power of Elvis' hair on the last. Gutboy wanted to kill the cat-man to avenge his dog's death, but Pai Mei intervened, saving Mr. Whiskers (for that was his name).
Mr. Whiskers circled around his beloved Pai Mei, rubbing his head on Pai Mei's legs and purring, and then led the party to the cat camp. Several luxurious tents had been set up, and there were thousands of dollars worth of expensive furnishings present. Not being ones to pass up a buck, the party decided they would have the village warriors function as porters, carrying the hundreds of pounds of loot on their backs. Tragically for the villagers, the rising sun saw several pit vipers stir from their nest (the cat-men had chosen a terrible campsite) and poison Mr. Whiskers and one of the warriors. Another bit S.P.A.R.K.I., but his hydraulics were unaffected by the venom.
After the snakes were slain, the remaining two villagers were forced to carry double-loads of furniture - no sense in leaving anything behind, and two men could surely carry what they had planned for three men and a cat. They hiked up towards the volcano, passing a tribe of cave-dwelling Neanderthals (who waved in friendship, but were ignored), and climbed the slope of the volcano to within a few hundred feet of the summit.
The party there found an obstacle - a deep cut through the side of the volcano with a swift-running stream at the bottom. A rickety rope bridge led over the cut to a ledge on the other side, but above it circled a swarm of 7 small rodans with 10' wingspans. Worried about the danger, the party ordered the villagers to carefully put down the hundreds of pounds of furnishing and try crossing the bridge. One of the warriors balked, but Elvis' hair showed him the ineffable wisdom of obedience to cruel tentacle-faced wizard-monsters.
The rodans swooped down at the villagers, who cowered in fear - but then Gutboy pulled out an Uzi and sprayed bullets into the air. The sound of gunfire inspired the rest of the party to spray lead at the hopelessly outmatched rodans - three plummeted into the ravine in an instant. The remaining flock flew away as fast as possible.
On the other side of the bridge, the party found evidence of a campsite, only a day old - their rivals were already at the volcano! They contemplated scaling the rim of the crater (another few hundred feet of steep climbing) or entering a cave adjoining the ledge. Rolf noticed movement a few hundred feet away - there was another cave along a narrow path running from the ledge, and a pumpkin-headed hairy humanoid pulled back into it from where it was spying on the party. The heroes did what heroes do, and decided the pumpkinoid must DIE.
They ran the narrow path, and found four pumpkin-headed furry humanoids waiting for them, guarding a lava tube running into the side of the volcano. The slaughter was brief, the pumpkins smashed, and glowing robotic nodules found sticking up from the stumps of Bigfoot necks underneath the gourds. What were these things? Something to discover at the next session!
Gains: 10,000 gp worth of expensive cat furniture and rugs
Kills: 20 super-hot zombie masters, 40 zombies, 19 cat-men, 3 sabre-tooth tigers, 4 pit vipers, 3 rodans
Losses: Rufus, 2 village warriors, Mr. Whiskers