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:
YOUR SACRIFICE WAS NOT IN VAIN. LOOK TO THE FOURTH TO FIND YOUR GAIN.
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?"
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