No, I am not dead, for whatever that's worth.  Yes, there are apparently rumors that I passed on.  Kind of morbid.  I'm just incorrigibly lazy about writing while my gaming group is in hiatus.


Blood Machines looks awesome

So the trailer looks awesome - anyone see this yet?


Did the week-long free trial of the Shudder streaming service, watched it.

a. Visually amazing!  It does look awesome
b. I LOVE the look of the Tracy spaceship.  That's about as menacing as a spaceship could get
c. Also loved the Tracy AI housing inside the Tracy spaceship
d. There was not enough attention to character building or dialogue
e. Shudder split it into three 15 minute episodes.  That was unnecessary and hurt the flow of the movie
f. Upside down crosses were totally unexplained and conflicted thematically with the notion of ship's souls.  Unless they were damned ships?  No real hint of that.  I assume the reason is "Carpenter Brut likes them!"

This movie was apparently inspired by a music video that the directors did for Carpenter Brut a few years ago.  That music video is also incredibly epic.


Frickin' Lulu

Got emails today from a few people saying that ASE1 and ASE2-3 were not available on Lulu anymore.  Can't log in, have to reset my password, re-add payee info to the books, and recreate some of the ASE1 products.

Lulu is telling me my sales are now zero.  I'm not hopeful I'll see a dime from my Q1 sales this year.

Did Lulu screw up for anyone else, or is this just my bad luck?


session recap, 2/23/2020

Biff the Fighter (6)
Assorted Henchpersons / Temporary PCs:  JoJo the Healer (5), Phil the Healer (5), Misty the Siren

Phil walked over to the sarcophagus - it had been smashed open at one end, revealing bones, a broken staff, and a shattered skull.  He then checked out the chests - they had three locks apiece securing them.

Biff examined the urn - the large stopper was sealed in place with gold fill.  He ignored Phil's suggestion to "push it over and smash it!" and pried the fill out with a dagger.  He then lifted the stopper off the urn - and a genie burst forth in a puff of smoke, and totally wasn't a giant blue Will Smith.  Not even remotely.
Genie:  "I've been trapped in there forEVER!  In thanks, I grant you three wishes!"
Phil: "Like anything we want?  Treasure?"
Genie:  "Not exactly.  Think of it more as favors I can do for you."
Phil:  "So not magic at all?  Lame."
Genie:  "Quiet.  I wasn't even giving you any.  They're for Biff."
Biff:  "OK, can you open that treasure chest?"
Genie: "You bet!"

The genie walked over to the treasure chest, and using his incredible strength, pulled the lid up and open - shouting "OUCH! what was that! oh poison", before toppling over, turning even bluer than he was.  As Phil said "Seriously?  The genie DIED?", JoJo ran over and used Neutralize Poison on the genie.  The genie bounced back to his feet, shouting "Wish number one, granted!"  Peering into the chest, Biff saw that it had 10,000 gems worth at least 50gp each.

Biff then asked the genie to open the second chest, being careful of poison traps this time - the genie did so, and inside that chest was 10,000 platinum pieces.

The party then stared at the walls for a bit, confused as to what to do next.  Phil put the Monocle of True Seeing to his eye, allowing him to see both a secret door next to the northwest statue, but also that there was a cavity BENEATH the northwest statue.

Biff, Phil, JoJo, and Misty all gathered around the statue and tried pushing it aside - but they were not strong enough.  Biff was forced to use his third wish to get the genie to help - with all of them together, they were able to slide the statue, revealing a ring attached to a chain, disappearing into the stone floor.  Biff gave the chain a yank, and the secret door slid open.

Genie:  "That's it for wishes!  Gonna stick around and watch though, should be entertaining!"
Phil:  "What?  You won't help?  Just a little magic?"
Genie:  "Fine!"  (shuffling through list of djinni magic powers) "Oh! Right! Create Food and Water!  Here, a HAM SANDWICH! WITH DIJON!"

Phil at the sandwich, and the party proceeded through the secret door.  The corridor beyond wound its way to a pair of one-way secret doors that led back to already-explored parts of the dungeon, albeit with brand new pit traps (that Biff fell into, only taking minor damage).  They spent a good deal of time trying to figure out where the actual Tomb of Acererak COULD be, not believing that the last room they were in was the actual tomb.  Eventually the genie got bored and disappeared ("I've got drying paint that needs watching!")

Finally, the party re-read the riddle - the last sentence was "You've left and left and found my Tomb and now your soul will die."  Phil grumbled that the corridor took a RIGHT after the secret door, not a left, but JoJo led them back anyways.  Looking left as soon as he passed through the secret door, he saw a keyhole in the wall.

Phil inserted the gold key into the keyhole, and the wall slid down, revealing a small chamber.  In the floor of this room was another keyhole - Phil walked up and put the gold key into this keyhole, and the key EXPLODED, blowing Phil into the ceiling.  JoJo rushed over and used his healing magic to restore Phil to life.

Biff inserted the bronze key and turned it - nothing happened.  Confused, he tried again - still nothing.  After some discussion, Biff gave it one last try - and the floor began to rise beneath his feet.  The party rushed out of the room, as a mithril vault rose up, filling the empty space.  The vault door had a ring set into it, and Biff pulled it, revealing what was surely the true Tomb of Acererak.

Inside, there was:
a. A giant pile of jumpsuits and wallets, much like the people of Under-Miami wore
b. 97 base 10 gp gems and 3 huge gems (a 10000 gp peridot (so Gygax), a 50000 gp emerald, and a 100000 gp black opal)
c. 12 potions and 6 scrolls
d. A ring, a rod, a staff, a net, a robe, and a pair of boots
e. Three swords and a spear
f. A pile of bone dust, near which sat a skull with gems in its eye-sockets and tooth-sockets

Biff walked in to gather up the loot (with the exception of the jumpsuits and wallets) - but as he did so, the bone-dust rose up, forming itself into a human shape, making mystical gestures.  He froze in fear, waiting for the apparation's next move, but it just waved its hands around for a bit and collapsed back into a pile of dust.  He shrugged, gathered up the loot, and walked back out into the corridor, ignoring the skull.  Phil held the monocle up one last time, and looked around the room - he saw screaming souls trapped in the evil skull's jewels, being slowly devoured -  and then the monocle then shattered - its power had been exhausted.

The two healers, JoJo and Phil, were also capable of using teleport spells, due to the incredible poor design skills of the class's author.  Biff divvied up the loot, and held onto the emerald, opal, net, robe, boots, 3 swords, crown and scepter.  They split the other coins and the cheap gems up among themselves, and JoJo and Phil grabbed the potions, scrolls, ring, and rod.  Misty, too, held many coins and potions.

JoJo first teleported Biff back to the Blessed Expeditionary Company Headquarters in Under-Miami.  He arrived in the middle of a crime scene, with yellow tape all over the place, outlines of bodies in tape on the floor, and CSI Miami technicians examining the room.

Misty was not so lucky.  Phil teleported her, and she appeared in the air 500' above the building.  She instantly turned herself into a bird using her siren powers, dropping all the coins and other loot she was holding.  The CSI techs were about to question Biff when they heard the clattering of coins and gems bouncing off the roof and the shattering of potion bottles.  Passers-by began shouting "Free money!" and began pouring into the building, tearing through the crime tape to get to the stairs leading up to the roof.  The CSI techs joined them as the citizenry looted Misty's lost share of the treasure, and Biff was able to sneak away.

JoJo and Phil needed a day to rest before they could re-use their teleport spells - but oddly, they didn't appear in the BCE HQ the next day.  At a loss for what could have happened, Biff and Misty told Gutboy and Rolf of their adventures, Biff sold his gems and various bits of treasure, and had his magic items identified as two worthless cursed swords (the Under-Miami sage placed an orange sticker labelled CURSED on both of them), a sword of defending +4, a net of snaring, a robe of eyes, and boots of levitation.  The platinum and gems from the two chests turned out to be worthless illusions, sadly.

Gains:  10,000 cp, 10,000 worthless gems, 50k gp emerald, 100k gp black opal, sword of defending +4, net of snaring, robe of eyes, boots of levitation
Kills:  almost a genie, but not quite
Losses:  JoJo and Phil ?  WHAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED ?


session recap, 1/5/2020

Pai Mei the Wu-Jen (7)
Biff the Fighter (6)
Clint the Duelist (4)
Assorted Henchpersons / Temporary PCs:  JoJo the Healer (5), Phil the Healer (5), Mary Lou the Entertainer (Acrobat) (5)

Pai Mei, Biff, Jojo, and Phil opened the secret door.  Beyond, a corridor headed east then south, opened a door, and entered an ancient laboratory.  The walls were lined with shelves of dusty jars, and tables were covered with perfumes and bones, and there were many small coffers scattered over the floor.  Three large vats sat in the middle of the room, each 7' across and 3' tall.  The first had filthy water, the second had clear water with half of a golden key at the bottom, and the third was filled with a gray pudding-like substance.  JoJo pulled Mary Lou's head out of his sack and resurrected her, as someone was needed to test the vats.  Her body reformed and Pai Mei gave her his cloak and a 10' pole.  "Thanks guys!  You're the best!  You'll never let me die in here!"

Mary Lou prodded the filthy water with the pole - it was just what it looked like, dirty water.  She then stuck the pole into the second vat of clear water, and it dissolved before her eyes - the second vat was filled with acid!  Pai Mei used his Ring of Stranger Things to levitate the key-half out of the vat and wiped it dry.

Mary Lou then poked the third vat with the remains of the pole - and the gray matter lurched out of the vat, reaching pseudopods towards her.  The party unleashed bows, laser rifles, and spells at the gray blob, and decimated it in short order.  In the bottom of the now-vacated vat was a second gold half-key.  Pai Mei levitated it out, connected the halves together, and they fused into a single key.

The party turned their attention to the various coffers.  They opened a few, getting small change and some cheap gems, and upon opening the third discovered it was full of poisonous snakes!  The snakes tried to bite Biff but missed, and JoJo and Phil's arrows soon took care of the thread.  They shook the rest of the coffers before opening, ignoring the ones that sounded snake-y, and gathered the remaining coins and cubic zirconiums within.

The party followed another corridor out of the room and down a set of stairs.  Mary Lou used a different 10' pole to probe ahead and discovered a 20' long pit trap, the pit bottom lined with spikes.  Pai Mei used the monocle of true seeing, and saw that the far end of the pit trap had a pressure plate.  He used the Ring of Stranger Things to pressure the plate downwards, and the spikes began shooting up at the ceiling, bouncing back down into the pit.  As each spike was fired, another took its place.  He continued to exert pressure until the pit began filling with spikes - eventually the weight of the spikes collecting on the floor was enough to keep the pressure plate held down.  The spikes slowly rose, filling the pit to near-floor-level before motion mostly stopped.  The party then walked across the spent spikes to the other side.

The corridor dead-ended.  Pai Mei once again used the monocle of true seeing, and found a secret door in the wall.  They opened it, and entered a room with a door on the wall and two large tapestries hanging from the ceiling.  Mary Lou used the pole to lift the tapestries, and saw nothing behind them.  She then opened the door, revealing a stone wall and a small hole - from which shot a spear, skewering her!  It was just a flesh wound, but as she pulled herself off the spear, the entire room began to vibrate, and the party fell to the floor.

Worried that the room was going to collapse, the party ran back outside.  Pai Mei paused to grab one of the tapestries and yank it down as he was running - and as soon as he gave it a firm yank, it liquefied into green slime, collapsing on top of him.  He was entirely dissolved in an instant, with not so much as a hair left behind to use for resurrection.  The only item that didn't dissolve was the crystal monocle of true seeing - JoJo carefully prodded it out of the mass of slime without getting on himself.

Mary Lou used the pole to lift the remaining tapestry as JoJo used the monocle to scan the room - there was a secret door behind it.  They quickly ran through, into a hallway, and down a flight of stairs.  At the end of the stairs the corridor made a crossroads, with corridors heading north, south, and east.  They explored east - it ended at a door, beyond which was a cavern filled with gold and silver mists.  They could only see a few feet in, due to the thickness of the mists.

They re-read the riddle, and couldn't find any reference to mists, so they returned to the crossroads and headed south.  It ended at another false door with a spear trap, which they handily avoided.  They then headed north, and the door there was real.  A corridor beyond headed north until it reached a door set in the east wall, and a stairway heading up.  They decided to investigate the door - behind, a corridor headed east, and ended at a set of double doors.

JoJo opened the double doors, and gas flooded into the corridor - the entire party fell unconscious in an instant.  They awoke a few minutes later, and stared in horror at the corridor beyond - a giant stone elephant on wheels had stopped only 10' from their location.  With a little more momentum, they would all have been squashed flat.  At a loss for where to go next, the party clambered over the elephant (nothing beyond but an empty room), and up the stairs (ended abruptly at a blank wall).

Unsure of what to do, the party reviewed the riddle, and as they did so a man rounded the corner - a duelist by the name of Clint, wearing a poncho and cowboy hat.  Mary Lou shouted "He should be one of my bosses!".  With no further discussion, Clint was a full party member.

The party went back to the misty room, and Clint walked into the mists.  In the center of the room was a crystalline grotto, and a woman stood in its center, with two sacks of stuff laying at her feet.

Clint:  "Hey... do you live here?"
Woman: "Maybe.  It's possible."
Clint:  "So you work for Acererak?"
Woman: "Oh, I don't think so."
Clint:  "What's in the sacks?"
Woman:  "I couldn't say."

From outside the room, JoJo shouted "Why don't you come with us?"  The woman said, "Oh thank goodness, an invitation.  Let's blow this place."  As she headed out of the room, the sacks dissolved into nothingness, disappointing Clint greatly.

Clint:  "So what's your name?  Misty?"
Misty:  "It is now!  I'm a siren.  I got tricked into sitting in that room for two thousand years.  I was on a blind date with Acererak, and blammo, stuck in a tomb."
JoJo:  "Do you want to come with us? We're exploring this place."
Misty:  "Oh hell yeah, you guys are my besties now."

They then returned to the door in the northward corridor, and Biff used the monocle to see what he could - there was a secret trap door in the floor right after the doorway.  He opened it, and they dropped down into a rough-hewn tunnel that led over one hundred feet to an iron door with three slots cut into it.

JoJo shone light through one of the slots, and peered through another, and saw a room full of stone pillars beyond.  Biff tried putting a dagger in one of the slots - the slot was a little bigger than the dagger's blade, and rattled around.  He then stuck his sword in - it was a perfect fit.  JoJo and Phil put their swords through as well, and the door slid open.  They retrieved their swords and walked into the room.

The room was enormous, and the ceiling was held up by dozens of pillars.  There were three doors in the north wall, the two on the sides glowing with blue light, and the one in the center glowing with violet light.  In the northwest corner of the room was a green devil face with a black opening for a mouth.  In the northeast was another devil face, this one with a bluish tinge.  Against the south wall was a silver throne on an ebony dais with a crown and scepter sitting on the seat.

The party opened the northwest door - inside was a table with a wooden sarcophagus atop it.  They opened the coffin, and a mummy lay inside, with a large amethyst jammed into its skull-wrappings.  JoJo grabbed the amethyst, and the mummy arose!  Once again, lasers and magic lay waste to the foe.

They then headed to the central violet door - beyond was a 10' by 10' room with a door opposite.  The walls were lined with paired swords and shields.  Mary Lou walked in, and a pair of swords and a shield flew off the wall, slicing her head off again.  Both head and body fell forward into the room, out of reach, and the weapons returned to their wall hangers.  With no way to retrieve her, the party bid farewell to her corpse, and turned their attention to the throne.

The crown was made of gold, the scepter of electrum with a large gold sphere on one end and a small silver sphere on the other, and the throne was covered with skull-pictures, with the exception of a silver crown carving on the lower front panel.

Clint put the crown on his head, and the room was lit up like the middle of the day for him.  He tried removing the crown, but it was stuck.  As he fiddled with the crown, Biff picked up the scepter and touched the silver end to the silver crown carving on the throne - the floor began sinking down, revealing a passage heading south as it did so.

The party headed south down the passage - as soon as Clint did so, he went blind - he could only see in the throne room itself!  He took the scepter, and touched the silver end to the crown, believing it was the key to safely removing the crown, just as silver-end-on-throne lowered the floor.  He was mistaken, and instantly crumbled into fetid powder.  The crown and scepter clattered to the floor, and Biff retrieved them.

The corridor headed south and up a set of stairs, ending at large mithril double doors.  A cylindrical bronze key sat on the stairs, and JoJo picked it up.  The mithril doors had a hemispherical depression with a keyhole in the center - JoJo put the golden key from the vat room in the keyhole, and was electrocuted for his efforts, falling back down the stairs.  He then put the bronze key in the keyhole, and was once again electrocuted.  Biff then looked at the gold sphere on the scepter, and saw that it was the same size as the hemispherical depression - he placed the sphere in the depression, and the doors swung open.

Beyond the mithril doors was a room with a silver ceiling and ivory walls inlaid with gold.  In the center of the room was a large gold filigreed bronze urn, against the south wall was a granite sarcophagus with the name ACERERAK inscribed on it in platinum, and two massive iron chests sat on either side of the sarcophagus.

In each corner was a 9' tall statue of black iron:

Northeast - holding a saw-toothed two-handed sword raised to strike
Northwest - holding a huge, spike-ended mace
Southeast - holding a wickedly spiked morning star
Southwest - holding a voulge (please consult your Pocket Guide to Medieval Pole-Arms)

The three survivors, Biff and the henchmen JoJo and Phil, consulted the riddle's last stanza - "The iron men of visage grim do more than meets the viewers eye. You've left and left and found my Tomb and now your soul will die." and decided to wait until the next session to figure out this new puzzle.

Gains:  gold key, 440 pp, 2 snake-filled coffers, 90 gp in cheap gems, amethyst worth 5000 gp, scepter worth 12,500 gp, crown worth 25,000 gp, bronze key
Kills:  gray-colored ochre jelly, small poisonous snake
Losses:  Pai Mei, Mary Lou, Clint


session recap, 10/20/2019

Pai Mei the Wu-Jen (7)
Biff the Fighter (6)
Assorted Henchpersons / Temporary PCs:  JoJo the Healer (5), Phil the Healer (5), Mary Lou the Entertainer (Acrobat) (5)

The party returned to the Spooktacular Tomb of Horrors, seeking glory and family entertainment.  In the entrance hall, they saw that the pit traps were clogged with the bodies of Under-Miami thrill seekers.  At the pit trap before the door to the gargoyle room, the bodies had piled high enough that visitors were using them to walk across safely.  They returned to the misty archway, inspecting the glowing stones - yellow, blue, and orange - and pressed them in order from left to right.  The mist disappeared, and the party walked through, staying on the red tile path, finding themselves teleported to a room with four-armed gargoyle statue, one arm broken of and lying on the floor.

The statue had faceted depressions in its three still-connected arms (no depression in the detached arm).  Biff began pulling blue gems out of the collar they had taken from the animated four-armed gargoyle in the last session - after placing three, the hands of the statue clenched, crushing the gems to powder, and then dumped the powder on the floor.  The gargoyle was otherwise motionless.

Biff did it again, and again, hoping for different results.  With only one gem left, the party was puzzled - and Biff just stuck it in one of the palms, presumably for completeness' sake.  The 10th gem did the trick however, and after crushing it, the statue spoke:


JoJo picked up the fourth arm, and heard something invisible fall from the palm and roll across the floor.  He scrambled around for a while, eventually finding the item - a monocle, which became visible after some buffing and polishing.

The party followed a rough-hewn tunnel out of the room, and found themselves crawling through a hole into a much larger chamber.  The walls were painted with human and animals, and many spheres in different colors.  At the south end of the room was another misty arch.  Looking back, the hole they crawled out of wasn't visible - it was behind an illusory gold sphere.

As they pondered their next move, a man in a jumpsuit crawled out of the gold sphere illusion behind them.

JoJo:  "Who are you?"
Earl: "I'm Earl! You find the treasure yet? Wanna go splitsies?"
JoJo:  "No..."
Earl:  "Your loss!  I'm gonna be RICH! RICH!"

Earl ran full speed through the misty arch, hollering about his soon-to-be-gained-riches, and disappeared.

They thought about Acererak's riddle ("night's good color is for those of great valor") and went to the black sphere - it, too, was an illusion!  As they poked at it, Earl came back through the gold sphere, completely naked.

Earl:  "Whatcha doin with that black circle?  Whoa, you can put things through them?"
JoJo:  "Where are your clothes?"
Earl:  "Disappeared!  That arch brought me back to the tomb entrance, buck naked!  Everyone laughed at me, but who'll be laughing when I'm RICH?"

Earl began poking the other colored circles at random, and discovered that the red circle was illusory.  He yelled some more about the treasure being "all mine" and dived through the circle.  After a few minutes, there was a shout of triumph, a scream, and then silence.

The party ignored Earl's presumed demise, and crawled through the illusory black circle.  A narrow rough-hewn tunnel twisted along for over a hundred feet, ending in a blank wall - obviously there was going to be a secret door - and there was - and it opened into a chapel.

The chapel had walls painted with zombies and corpses, many wooden pews with hinged seats, an altar of glowing opalescent blue stone, a dais with a wooden chair, brass candelabra, and two large urns.  A human skeleton near the altar lay on the floor, its outstretched bony arm pointing to a glowing orange misty archway.

Pai Mei held the monocle to his eye - it was a powerful monocle, seeing into the interdimensional ether connecting all things - the altar was magical (not suprising), the archway was magical (again, no shock), the chapel was faintly radiating an aura of good (very surprising), and two of the front pews were trapped.  Biff inspect the trap, and snipped some exposed wires.  Pai Mei then used his Ring of Stranger Things (telekinesis) to open the pew seats one by one, ending with the trapped seats - the wires had been connected to vials filled with a mysterious gas - and they gathered 8000 sp, 6000 ep (electrum? really?), and 4000 gp all told.

Biff walked up to the glowing altar, stood behind it, and touched it - a lightning bolt sprang forth from the altar up the aisle between the pews.  No one was in the way of the bolt - but the altar was now glowing a fiery blue-red.

As they pondered their next move, a naked man walked into the chapel.

Larry: "Yo, I'm Larry. Find the treasure?"
JoJo:  "Not yet.  It's probably behind that orange misty archway.  You should check it out."
Larry: "You bet I will!  Treasure, here I come!"

Naked Larry ran through the arch, into the glowing orange mist, and quickly returned - as a naked woman.  Larry was now Larina.

Larina:  "There wasn't any treasure!  And I've got boobs now! What the hell?"
JoJo:  "Well you can just go through it again to change back to a man."

Eyes narrowing in distrust, Larina was nevertheless convinced to recover her lost manhood by going through the arch a second time.  She did - and returned once again as a woman.

Larina: "Well that didn't work.  Guess it's boobs for me now!  Wonder if I'll still be a woman after I die?"
JoJo:  "You know what, you should sit on that glowing altar.  That's probably what'll reveal the treasure."
Larina:  "Well, OK.  I'm going to need some money for a new wardrobe.  Let's do it!"

The party retreated hastily and not at all suspiciously to the far corners of the chapel, and Larina hopped onto the glowing altar.  It exploded instantly, sending bits of Larina, altar, pews, candelabras, skeleton, and stonework all over the chapel.  The party was far enough away to be essentially unharmed as a mist of stone dust and blood settled over them.

Clearly, the altar wasn't a part of Acererak's puzzle.  The party now carefully searched the room for secret doors, and found a small slot in the southeast corner - a little wider than a coin, 1/4" by 1".  They dropped a gold coin in, but nothing happened.

Befuddled, the party headed back to the room of painted circles, and climbed through the red circle that Earl had used.  A small tunnel ended at a sharp slope down into a room with three chests, the opening ten feet above the floor.  Earl's body lay on the floor of the room, his neck twisted at an odd angle - the tunnel was a trap that had suddenly dropped down and Earl had broken his neck when he fell into the room.

The three chests were made of gold, silver, and wood, respectively. Pai Mei used his Ring of Stranger Things to open the gold chest - a dozen poisonous snakes leaped out, but the party easily killed them with crossbows from a safe distance.  He then opened the silver chest using the ring, and revealed a clear crystal box with a ring inside.  He levitated the box out of the chest (triggering a dart trap, which ineffectively hit the ceiling) towards the party.  Finally, he opened the wood chest, and a giant skeleton leaped out like a malevolent Jack-in-the-Box, wielding two scimitars.  It charged up to the opening in the wall and used its scimitars as scissors to cut Mary Lou's head off - the body and head tumbled forward into the room.

The party blasted away at the skeleton with magic missiles and crossbow bolts, reducing it to bone fragments, and pondered what to do with Mary Lou - was it worth wasting a Raise Dead on a henchperson again?  JoJo decided that since Raise Dead did not require a complete corpse, the best course of action would be to just take her head, and if they needed her, they could raise her from that.  Head in hand, the party headed back towards the chapel.

At the chapel, Pai Mei took the ring out of the crystal box and placed it in the slot in the wall ("the wise will not need sacrifice aught but a loop of magical metal").  The wall moved down slowly, crushing the ring flat as it did so, but a tunnel was revealed.  They followed the tunnel down some stairs and reached a door, Biff poking at the floor with a ten foot pole the entire way.  Immediately past the door, Biff found a pit trap, and then another door - the party recalled more of the riddle - "Two pits along the way will be found to lead to a fortuitous fall, so check the wall."  They opened the next door, found another pit trap and door after that, and then opened the third door - with a third pit trap - and the tunnel continued on into darkness after it.  Reasoning that two pits had passed, the fortuitous fall must be into the third pit, and Biff lowered himself down into the pit.  He searched and quickly found a wooden door painted to look like stone.

They opened the painted door, revealing another tunnel - after following it for a bit, stairs descended down into a misty corridor.  Biff walked down into the mist, but quickly ran back - the mist stung his eyes, blinding him, irritated his skin, and provoked a massive fear response. He ran past the party screaming about the tomb being a death trap, and they found him at the bottom of the painted-door pit desperately trying to jump ten feet up to the corridor above.  After a few minutes he relaxed as the fear gas worked its way out of his system.  While waiting, yet another naked Under-Miami citizen arrived.

Derek:  "Hey man, I'm Derek.  Find that treasure yet?"
JoJo:  "No, but we're close - we can feel it!  Just past this misty corridor - think you can scout ahead?"
Derek:  "Sure, want to split the treasure?"
JoJo:  "Yes, of course! You'll get a share!"

Derek headed into the mist - they heard him complaining about getting a rash, and then shout that he found a door.  The mist began to flow through this door as Derek opened it - he returned to the party, and they waited for the mist to clear.  The party and Derek headed through the door, discovering a stairway leading down into a room filled with webs.

Pai Mei used his ancient Oriental magics to send a burst of flame into the room, instantly clearing the webs.  They revealed a crypt - a burning lich with a crown reclined motionless on a solid gold couch, and a fancy silver-inlaid glowing mace lay on the floor at the bottom of the stairs.  JoJo picked up the mace, and a booming disembodied voice shouted:  "WHO DARES TO DISTURB THE REST OF ACERERAK? IT IS YOUR DEATH WHICH YOU HAVE FOUND."

The lich stood and began waving its hands around in mystical patterns.  The party unloaded their full arsenal, and instantaneously decimated the lich.  Derek ran down and grabbed the crown ("ow! hot!") from the lich's head.

Derek:  "K, this is my share!  You take the couch! See you guys later!"
JoJo: "Yeah, no."

JoJo used the glowing mace to crack Derek's skull open, and retrieved the crown.  Derek had clearly overestimated the size of his share.

Searching the room, the party found the burnt remnants of several scrolls, 278 pp, 29 cheap gems, and a jade coffer.  Biff picked the coffer up and shook it violently to hear what was inside - what he heard was glass shattering.  He opened the coffer and found six broken potion bottles and some sticky liquid sloshing around.

The party was unconvinced that this was actually Acererak - the lich had been defeated far too easily, and half the riddle was left to solve.  They returned to the painted-door-pit, wizard locked the door to prevent any Under-Miami tourists from walking off with the solid gold couch, and followed the unexplored corridor after the third pit into the darkness.  As they climbed out of the pit, another stranger showed up, this time fully clothed - a woman named Milly.  She followed the party to the end of the corridor, asking about the treasure and whether they had seen Derek ("No, never heard of him").

At the end of the corridor was an oaken door bound with iron bands and secured with several locks.  Pai Mei listened at the door and heard far-off music and happy singing behind it.  The door was solidly secured, so the party quickly gave up on trying to open up and turned their attention back to the riddle.  Milly got bored and wandered off ("I'm going to go look at those other painted circles!").

After some time, the party decided to head back to the pit trap with the stone-painted door and see if they had missed something.  They went through, and Pai Mei pulled out the monocle to help search for more secret doors - and there it was, right after the painted door - a secret door.  They had thought that "will be found to a fortuitous fall, so check the wall" referred to the wall of the pit and the painted door, but it was actually the wall immediately after the painted door that the riddle referenced (WTF Gygax?)

Gains:  Monocle of True Seeing, 8000 sp, 6000 ep, 4000 gp, glowing mace, clear crystal box worth 10000 gp, jade coffer worth 5000 gp, crown worth 25000 gp, 278 pp, 290 gp in cheap gems
Kills: 12 poisonous snakes, giant skeleton, presumably fake Acererak, Derek
Losses: Earl, Mary Lou, Larina, blue gemstone collar


So yeah, Tomb of Horrors...

I've got more free time, but not the right kind of free time... so while getting back to a monthly game session is happening, I didn't end up having time to prep more dungeon.  So I hauled out some classics with bad reputations:

a. The Tomb of Horrors!  Reading through it, it seemed "tough but fair", all the traps are telegraphed because everything is a trap.  The pits in the first hall in particular advertise the trappiness.  Biff's player is usually pretty reckless, and even he adjusted quickly, grabbing the levers for dear life in anticipation of the floor dropping was showing the requisite level of paranoia.

b. In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords!  It's bullshit to strip players of all their stuff unwillingly, so I figured I'd see if they wanted to volunteer to go in naked.  They can't abide the idea of the BEC taxing them - I thought that a tax abatement would be the perfect bait.  My players weren't having it, slaughtering the BEC instead was more appealing, and they LOVE their equipment, despite rarely using it (mostly due to poor inventory control, the longer-standing characters have 10 pages of notes attached to them at this point).

Kudos to Gutboy for his obvious, ham-handed attempt at framing Ashkasar (a villain encountered in Guy Fullerton's "Many Gates of the Gann") for the BEC murders - it will totally work, because it's fun letting these things succeed and having ALL the unintended hilarious consequences possible happen.

It's funny seeing how different players reacted to the Tomb - Biff and Pai Mei's players could care less about character death, it's just a re-roll with a new character class, whereas Gutboy's player views survival as a victory condition.  He's even talking resurrecting or re-creating Rufus the talking dog, trying to get back to that "win" state.  We'll see how that plan works out, he hasn't given me any specifics.  He had Gutboy retreat, and played the pair of healers instead.

Speaking of which, for henchmen, I extracted all the "new class" articles from my Dragon Magazine Archive and printed & bound them, and I've got a table of them I use when I need to produce new henchmen.  There were the usual weird misfits (entertainers? geisha? Neanderthals?), but the Healer class is insanely OP.  I stated they were all fifth level, and then checked the capabilities - fifth level "Raise Dead Fully" (as opposed to partially?) spells available to them.  I'm not one to back down on giving excessive powers to players, it's fun to see them be misused (or, more rarely, correctly used), so they've got that going for them.  It might be enough to lure the party back into the Tomb.

Or maybe they'll go dungeoneering in the Anomalous Subsurface Environment instead - I need to do some writing.