session recap, 9/8/2019
Pai Mei the Wu-Jen (7)
Gutboy the Cleric (7)
Biff the Fighter (6)
Assorted Henchpersons: JoJo the Healer (5), Phil the Healer (5), Mary Lou the Entertainer (Acrobat) (5), Grog the Neanderthal (5), Rosy the Geisha (5)
After an uneventful journey back to Under-Miami with the glorious black pearl, the party divvied up the loot - but rather than retiring to a lifestyle of ease and luxury, they decided to once again risk all in a life-threatening pursuit of gold and thrills. Surface-worlders were a common sight on Ocean Drive - the Blessed Expeditionary Company had set up an auxiliary office in one of the art deco hotels, and "BEC" t-shirts adorned the adventurers milling about on the nearby beaches.
Chatter among the locals revealed two recent adventuring opportunities. The first was nearby - with the coming Halloween season, the city was sponsoring their annual "Spooktacular Tomb" event - a three-entrance tomb, from which no one ever returned - surrounded by booths offering fried dough, cotton candy, and balloons - the perfect diversion for the seemingly immortal populace of Under-Miami. The second was on the surface - the BEC was sponsoring a "Loincloth Challenge", where incorporated adventuring parties who dropped into a gaping Hole of Adventure with no equipment other than loincloths, and made it out the "other end", wherever that may be, would be granted a full year exemption from the BEC's 10% tax on proceeds from dungeon exploration.
Adventuring unequipped was unseemly, so Pai Mei proposed that the party visit the Tomb. Gutboy was further outraged that the BEC was establishing a presence in Under-Miami - their refuge from political skullduggery. Gutboy took his outrage to his good friend, the mayor - equally outraged, the mayor proclaimed that a lavish fundraising party with sufficient blow for the guests would sway him towards ignoring any "accidents" that occurred at the BEC auxiliary headquarters.
Gutboy spent his portion of the proceeds from the sale of the Black Pearl (purchased by an anonymous investor, either the mayor or an acquaintance, as it was on a pedestal in the mayor's office) on illicit pharmaceuticals, and reached out to one of the party's growing list of archnemeses, the cannibal wizard Ashkasar, with an invitation. At the party, he struck a deal:
Gutboy: "Ashkasar! I think we have a lot in common!"
Ashkasar: "I think I'm going to eat you. And everyone you know."
Gutboy: "Don't be like that! Look, there's some people who need to go - the BEC. Clear them out, and your cannibal society will get there hotel back!"
Ashkasar: "I have my own quarters, thank you. Although the society will certainly be pleased to get their headquarters back. And I could go for someone different to eat, it's the same person over and over and over here. Such a lack of variety! I'll assist, but understand this partnership is temporary. You took my spellbook, and my best silverware! You're going to be my lunch."
Gutboy: "We'll be friends for life! Give it a chance! We have a wonderful future together!"
[Pai Mei and Biff spent their proceeds in a more practical fashion, purchasing a variety of laser rifles, machine guns, and ammunition.]
After the festivities ended, the party headed to the BEC headquarters. Various functionaries were inside, along with five would-be henchmen, waiting for a party to hire them. Gutboy incorporated the party, naming them "Ashkasar's Minions" in an attempt to frame the wizard for the mayhem to come - Ashkasar was to slaughter everyone in the BEC headquarters, while Gutboy was to hire all the henchmen and get them killed during in an adventure (a task the party had a remarkably successful history with).
The five henchpeople were a motley crew: two rival healers, JoJo and Phil, who were busy cutting their forearms to show who could better apply a bandage, Mary Lou the spunky acrobat, looking to entertain adventuring parties with her tumbling while earning her fortune, Grog the Neanderthal, who may be just a caveman, but even he knew the profits to be found as a henchman, and Rosy the Geisha, who had somehow fallen into the belief that artistic dancing with a hand-fan was best practiced in trap-filled dungeons.
The henchmen demanded a standard half-share to join the party ("Them's the BEC United Henchman Local 411 rules! This is a union dungeon, buddy!") - Gutboy stopped by the Cannibal Society temporary HQ to let Ashkasar know that it was open season on the BEC auxiliary headquarters staff - and the party was off to the SPOOKTACULAR TOMB for Halloween adventure.
At the tomb entrances, the party decided to enquire after a guide.
Pai Mei: "Hey, does anyone know what's inside?"
Future guide: "Oh no mister, that's why it's so spooktacular! Nobody ever returns! Great Halloween mystery, right?"
Pai Mei: "Yeah. Think of all the wallets that must be stacked up in there by now. You mind being our guide?"
Guide: "Awesome! This is going to be the most fun ever! Let me light this torch!"
The "guide" spent several minutes trying to light his cotton candy on fire as a makeshift torch, and happily led the crew into the tomb. They selected the central entrance from the three available. Inside, the walls were covered with plaster, which was in turn painted with murals of people performing various mundane chores. One mural stood out, showing a picture of a jackal-headed Anubis holding a metal box - which protruded from the wall - an actual box - very tricky, tomb architect! The mural next to it depicted a torture chamber with an iron door, in stark contrast to the more mundane scenes painted on the rest of the tunnel. A path of red stone was set into the floor of the tunnel, meandering its way south. Pai Mei instructed the guide to "check out" the box - he happily followed the path, waving his flaming cotton candy around merrily, and the floor opened up underneath him, dropping him into a pit.
The party rushed over and looked in - the pit was filled with spikes, coated with purple goop, and filled with the dead bodies of Halloween tomb explorers, the guide being the latest addition. Unphased, they had Mary Lou open the box (hinged underneath instead of the top) - she felt inside, found an invisible lever, and yanked it at Pai Mei's behest - dropping her into yet another spiked pit. The party rushed to this second pit, and saw her face turning black as she choked on her tongue, the purple poison on the spikes rotting her from the inside out. They quickly lowered Grog on a rope to drag her back up, and the healers fought over the opportunity to neutralize her poison ("You guys are so compassionate! I heard you adventurers left henchmen to die!"). They headed 10' south, Mary Lou leading the way, and she fell into yet another pit - clearly the tomb architect was a pit fan. She died messily on a spike - the healers suggested using their Raise Dead Fully to bring her back, but were vetoed by Gutboy - such powers were for employers, not coworkers.
The party handed a 10' pole to Grog, and had him and Rosy lead them down the tunnel - the tapping pole found several more spiked pit traps. At the end of the tunnel was a giant green devil face carved in the south wall, its open mouth a gaping black maw which no light penetrated. To the east was an archway, filled with swirling mist. As Rosie approached it, blocks in the archway lit up - a block to the left glowing yellow, a block at the top of the arch glowing blue, and a block on the right glowing orange. Grog the Neanderthal suddenly piped up - "Hey, checking out the hall all this way, I can tell there's a message written on the floor! So easy a caveman can read it!" He recited the following:
ACERERAK CONGRATULATES YOU ON YOUR POWERS OF OBSERVATION. SO MAKE OF THIS WHATEVER YOU WISH, FOR YOU WILL BE MINE IN THE END NO MATTER WHAT!
Go back to the tormentor or through the arch,
and the second great hall you'll discover.
Shun green if you can, but night's good color
is for those of great valor.
If shades of red stand for blood the wise
will not need sacrifice aught but a loop of
magical metal - you're well along your march.
Two pits along the way will be found to lead
to a fortuitous fall, so check the wall.
These keys and those are most important of all,
and beware of trembling hands and what will maul.
If you find the false you find the true
and into the columned hall you'll come,
and there the throne that's key and keyed.
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.
The party thought about it for a second, went "meh", and headed through the misty arch - with the exception of Gutboy, who was overcome with abject terror, memories of past lives dying in similar tombs overwhelming him. He ran back to the hotel, vowing never to return - leaving henchmen to act in his stead. As each person passed through, they were teleported into a cramped 10' by 10' room with three levers on the north wall. The levers (joysticks, really) could be moved up, down, left, and right. Biff immediately grabbed one of the levers and held tight, fearful that the floor might suddenly drop out, given the sheer number of pit traps they had just found.
The party decided that all three levers should be moved down simultaneously - so Biff, Grog, and Rosie all pulled levers down. The floor, of course, instantly opened, and the party began to fall - except for the insightful Biff, who clung to his lever with all his might. Pai Mei used his Stranger Things Ring (telekinesis) to hold himself in place, and the two healers used their Fly spells as they fell, allowing them to safely float back to the rest of the party. Grog and Rosie screamed for a long time before a splat was heard - and Gutboy's plan had now claimed three of the five henchmen. After a few minutes, the floor rose back up.
Nervous, but with no other options, the party tried moving the levers left simultaneously, then right, then up - which was the correct answer. As they moved the levers up, a trapdoor opened in the ceiling, revealing a crawlspace that led back to the tomb entrance. They pushed open a cramped door, covered by plaster murals, and lowered themselves back into the main tunnel.
Revisiting the clues left by Acererak, they went to the torturer mural and tapped it with a 10' pole - the iron door echoed metallically - there was an iron door beneath the plaster painting. One of the healers knocked the plaster off and opened the door, and the party advanced into the tomb.
The next room was occupied by a massive, alarmingly mobile 4-armed gargoyle, wearing a collar studded with blue gemstones. One healer slowed the gargoyle, while another hasted the party - this four-to-one ratio of party to gargoyle actions ensured the monster's demise. Lasers, swords of salesmanship, fiery magic shurikens (with clouds of concealing smoke, a detail Pai Mei elaborated on in great detail) lacerated the beast, but not before it was able to knock one of the healers (JoJo) unconscious. Disdainfully, his colleague Biff brought him back from the brink of death, a shame he will never let JoJo live down.
Pai Mei examined the collar - a compartment contained a piece of paper with another of Acererak's clues:
Look low and high for gold, to hear a tale untold. The archway at the end, and on your way you'll wend.
Resources expended, the party decided they should leave the tomb and recover before proceeding further. On the way out the door, JoJo raised Mary Lou from the dead (bringing the losses from three back down to two) - "You are the best employers EVER!" - and the party let the crowd of funseekers outside know that they had made progress in the tomb. Crowds of victims/sightseers rushed into the tomb - distant screams were heard - and then nothing.
Gains: Blue gemstone collar (1000 gp value)
Kills: Four-armed gargoyle
Losses: Rosy, Grog, Gutboy's courage