“Corbin, Inc.”, Session #14
- Alric Redbeard, barbarian philanthropist (PC)
- FuBar Bombad, infamous trash ninja and swinging bait (PC)
- Gabby the Cabin Girl, catching up to the others just in time for all the really good violence (PC)
- Mississippi Jedadiah Walker, bard/wizard who gains a really unique perspective (PC)
- Needles, the famous monster-slayer — really, he’s got a song and everything (PC)
- Posy, cat-folk archer who’s so Woo she’s got her own doves (PC)
- “Dobby”, Alric’s goblin henchman, left outside the dungeon and thus not appearing in this episode (NPC henchman)
- Trevor, apprentice wizard who got to be the party’s chief wizard, for a while (NPC henchman)
- Brother Bob Pattson, Bruce the Brute, and Jack, son of John, flunkies who get put in a corner (NPC hirelings)
None, because we picked up with the party still in the dungeon.
(GM Note: This is the second half of the dungeon delve that started last session. We pick up only a moment later.)
“Hey, guy, what’re we looking for?” Gabby asked, joining the bulk of the party at the edge of the Pit of Darkness. She had missed the party leaving town, and only just now caught up. She had cut cross-country and left her rope hanging down the cliff face to the Great Bridge. (GM: If I caught the story correctly, that rope made the difference between encumbrance levels, so leaving it behind was a win.) The others quickly muttered out the story, over the screams of the shriekers, explaining that FuBar had gone down into the Pit of Darkness, and they were waiting for the screams or the mad dash for escape, whichever came first.
Down on the first level of the pit, FuBar was reaching for the backpack, when he heard the creak of door hinges. The door in front of him was slowly opening. Thinking quickly, he acrobatically made his way up the wall and clung to the ceiling, “River Tam style”. Luckily, he was able to win the war of stealth. He saw that a humanoid figure was lurking just inside the door. Deciding to abandon the backpack, he dropped a flask of alchemist’s fire in front of the doorway and made a wild, leaping dash for the exit.
Hearing the ruckus, Needles and Gabby jumped to climb down the chain and provide support. Posy kept her overlook position, in case of bad guys exiting the pit, but became increasingly restless. Alric also maintained his position, axe at the ready to chop any climbing hands. Jed held a missile spell at the ready, splitting his attention between the pit and the surrounding area, directing the hirelings to watch in all directions.
Inside the pit, there was a bit of a standoff. The monster, whatever it was, was lurking inside the room; apparently the slick of fire on the ground hadn’t caused it much difficulty. The three PCs tried to draw it out, to no avail. Finally, they entered the room. The creature, a humanoid figure made entirely of darkness, managed to pop up being FuBar. Its sneak attack was somewhat spoiled, thanks to FuBar’s finely-honed sense for danger and a desperate, behind-the-back parry. Still, it got one hand on him, and he could feel the icy fingers of death tearing at his very soul.
FuBar and Gabby moved to engage the creature, while Needles edged around the fight with his eye on the backpack. Just as he made it to his goal, Gabby launched a successful attack that put a rapier into both the creature’s eyes. Dead before it hit the ground. The backpack turned out to be full of less-than-epic loot. The most interesting items were a dungeon-camouflaged cloak — for some reason, the party is wild for cloaks — and a vial of Luminous Dust.
They checked the next room in, where the shadow-man had come from. There, they found the skeleton of a goblin, still clutching a mace in one hand, and a sack in the other. Obviously, a failed treasure hunter. Checking the sack, they found a couple of silver buttons and a wand-like object; when investigated outside, in the light, it turned out to be a unicorn’s horn, covered in scrimshaw, worth nearly $1,000. While they were investigating, a handful of zombies approached outside on the balcony. They made short work of them.
Meanwhile, the rest of the party was still on watch. Trevor drew the others’ attention to the far end of the room, saying he had seen movement. Investigation revealed nothing, which might have actually increased their level of paranoia. Reconsidering their position, they had Posy call the rest of the party up to the top of the pit. The whole group retreated to the far end of the room, to the old dwarven storeroom. The two groups compared notes. They decided that the high-powered members of the party could handle the level of hostilities in the pit, but the henchmen would be at risk. They posted the hirelings there, in the storeroom, behind barred doors, and returned to the pit.
Everybody climbed down the chain, except for Jed, who used his Wallwalker spell to avoid risking a fall. The experienced hands pointed out items of interest to the newcomers. There were two large open doorways, on walls opposite each other, each flanked by two doors. The other two walls each had three doors.
The party started working its way clockwise around the level, starting with the door to the right of the door that FuBar had originally entered. The first room was a small chamber with no exits. Next came one of the large doorways, which led to a tiled chamber with curtained alcoves, where FuBar discovered quite a prize: a fine chamber pot. The next door was spiked shut, with a chalked message, saying, “Do not enter! Dead!”
After a quick conference, the party left that door alone for the moment. They backtracked to the first door, then proceeded to the left. The other big doorway led to a room with a dried fountain, with a layer of sticky green slime in the bottom. As is usual in these situations, there was a nervous conference to determine if this was just green slime or if it were Green Slime!, the bane of unwashed adventurers everywhere. Alric announced it was just common pond scum, and FuBar volunteered to give it a taste to make sure, surviving the experiment unharmed. In another room, they found a huge mess of shredded paper and broken shelves (sad Jed) around a lectern bearing a single, untouched, closed book (happy Jed!). Wary of curses, they swept it into a bag and packed it away for later examination.
By the time they made it make to the “Dead!” door, they had started to get an idea of the layout of the place. As they put it, “There’s the one suite, but it’s mostly studio apartments.” Most of the rooms had been looted already. While FuBar slowly accumulated a hobo’s stew of unspeakable components, nobody else was making any profit.
At the “Dead!” door, the party discussed whether they should mess with the door or leave it alone. Jed declared that he would do some reconnaissance. Now, through this part of the trip, Jed had been carrying around a missile spell. To free his hands for other casting, he tossed the spell over his shoulder.
The resulting lightning bolt and clap of thunder took everyone by surprise. The shriekers stopped screaming, which freaked everybody out even worse than the sudden thunder. Gabby bolted for the chain and didn’t stop until she was back at the top of the pit. Looking back over her shoulder, the only thing she saw was FuBar’s new chamber pot, spinning like a top. Everybody else had dove for a hiding place. Even Jed, surprised when everyone else vanished, found a place to hide. Slowly, over the course of several minutes, as nothing came screaming out of the bottom of the pit, the party came out of their hiding places and returned.
There was much whispered discussion about the virtues of stealth, in the dungeon environment, and the general lack of wisdom inherent in giving away their location to every bad guy with ears within a half-mile radius.
Back at the “Dead!” door, Jed did his see-through-doors trick, confirming that the room was, indeed, crowded with zombies. The party sorted out their battle line. Alric used his maul to trigger a siege stone, blowing the door to bits, and Jed blasted through the opening with a full-power breath of flame. This tore up the first rank, but there were plenty of zombies to fill the gaps. Battle was joined. Posy put arrows through eyes. Gabby did the same with her rapiers. Needles put his trademark head-lopping move to good use. Jed even rolled up his sleeves and went to work, bashing in zombie skulls with his purple-flaming quarterstaff. Alric was somewhat hampered by fighting with his maul, rather than his great axe, but he still caved in his share of undead. FuBar worked around the edges, with his most notable move being when he caught a flying zombie head, thrown from Needles’ last adversary, on the point of his sai and used it as an improvised throwing weapon against the next zombie in line.
Sadly, the only payout was a pile of badly-damaged corpses in dirty loincloths. Having cleared level one of the nigh-legendary Pit of Darkness, the party put their heads together. Pickings had been slim thus far. It was unlikely that they would show a profit from the trip, if they called it a day here. Unanimously, they declared that they would try the second level.
This called for some discretion and examination. They sent FuBar down the chain to take a look. He returned, declaring that the whole next level’s balcony was crowded with zombies. Furthermore, he reported, there were several gathered around some kind of object, in one corner, that he couldn’t get a good look at. Posy worked her way around to see if she could get a good shot, finally getting an angle on the lower body of one. She put an arrow into its groin, spurring it to action. It staggered forward in anger, arms outstretched… until it toppled over the edge of the balcony, falling to its doom.
Inspired by this, the party put together a plan. They tied FuBar on a rope and dangled him over the edge, so that he could “run” along the wall below the second level. He joyously teased zombies until the entire crowd had stumbled over the brink, chasing him. He signaled for the rest of the group to join him, then went to check out the previously-hidden object… which turned out to be a chest with a bear carved into the lid. Needles unlocked it after examining it for traps, opened it, and saw that it seemed, at a glance, to be full of fine clothing. Satisfied with that, the party closed the chest and strapped it onto Alric’s growing bundle of loot.
Getting their bearings, the party realized that the chest had been sitting in the same corner as the two-room suite on the level above. Based on the theory that the floors’ layouts would be similar, they opened the door that should — and did — lead to the big apartment on this level. Needles checked it over, then handed the door over to Alric, who gave it the boot.
Inside the room, they found two cat-headed humanoids, sitting on two benches, facing each other, with swords across their knees. They were obviously not cat-folk, despite the similarities: they were far bulkier, with fangs overhanging their lower lips, glowing red eyes, and licks of flames coming from their eyebrows, ear-tips, and so forth. They turned their heads and snarled. With no specialist on hand to identify them, they were classified as “demonic cat-folk”. Accordingly, the party rushed in the room to engage.
Before any of the heroes could actually reach them, though — it was a tight doorway — the cat-demons were in motion. Both stood. One brandished his sword and sidestepped in an effort to flank the incoming party. The other stepped to the center of the room, drew breath, and exhaled a tremendous cone of flame!
Nearly everybody dove for cover. Alric ducked to the side and used his heavy cloak for cover. FuBar had already stationed himself against the wall, outside the door, and hadn’t rushed in, so he was out of danger. Jed held his ground, trying to use a Command spell to cause the creature to aim its attack at its partner, rather than the party. Sadly, the demon resisted his bardic mind tricks, and Jed was blasted, full-force. Though badly wounded and swaying, he kept his feet.
… for about a half second. The cat-demon who hadn’t breathed fire jumped into the middle of the party. The nearest standing enemy on its side of the fray was Jed. Accordingly, the beast stepped up to the dazed wizard, swung its sword once, and lopped off his head!
(GM Note: PC down! PC down! Here’s the funny thing: Jed’s player had finally obtained an appropriate miniature, top hat and all, and even got it painted. The running joke, up to this point, was that by putting his money down, he had tempted fate, and now Jed’s days were numbered. As you see… the omens were right.)
As designated thrower- and catcher-of-things, FuBar recovered Jed’s severed head before it rolled too far, and popped it into his pouch, right next to his treasured chamber pot. Posy didn’t even bother getting to her feet, she just started raining arrows, two at a time, through the doorway. (In fact, she remained prone for the rest of the battle.) The others stood and tackled the demons, with Alric and Gabby double-teaming the fire-breather.
The sword-favoring demon had the misfortune of ending up with Needles to his back. The thief-swashbuckler went to work, lumberjack-style, on the demon’s neck, but couldn’t manage the trick of decapitating it. For that matter, he couldn’t get it to stop moving! It kept backing up, as it fought, trying to get outside the room so it could get a good angle on the entire party for its own breath of fire. It just had to get a couple of yards outside the door to be able to hit nearly everyone. When it stepped outside the cover of the doorway, however, it came within sight of FuBar, who had been preparing for this moment. He flung an ice potion at it, dousing it in alchemical cold. It howled once and went down dead, and nearly headless.
Observing this, Needles turned and returned to the room, where Gabby and Alric were busy unloading damage into the other demon-cat, who also refused to die despite receiving many should-be-mortal wounds. Needles pulled his own ice potion and shoved it down the demon’s throat! It tried to roar, failed, and fell dead.
The party gathered up the rest of their dead companions’ remains and searched the room. They found that the demons had been sitting on either side of a locked chest, which was sitting on a fine run covered with geometric figures. They took both. (GM: And maybe the benches, too. They were iffy on them.)
No jokes about “just one more room” this time. The party didn’t even argue their next move. They left the Pit, returned to the storeroom to collect the henchmen, and left the dungeon using Gabby’s previously-prepared climbing line. They returned to town without further incident.
There, the party split into two teams. The first group took Jed’s corpse to The Church. It was determined that Jed’s spirit was willing to leave behind the afterlife to continue working in the mortal realm. It was further determined that between Jed’s stored-up goodwill with The Church (GM: cough-cough-DONATIONS-cough) and a few thousand copper from Alric’s personal fortune, they could afford to pay for a resurrection. The service was paid for and scheduled. (GM: … but I haven’t fully investigated all the ramifications of being brought back from the dead, so there might still be rolls to make and consequences to address. For the moment, we assumed that Jed was back in the land of living, free of any hair or trace of eyebrows from his flame-bath, pale and weak, but able to issue orders for Trevor to carry out.)
Loot inventory back in town revealed that the two cat-demons had been guarding a chest full of scrolls, written in the dwarven manner, on sheets of metal. The zombies’ chest was full of fine clothing — a cap, a poncho, a bright red skirt, a silver bracelet — which the party did not sell, suspecting it might be of ritual significance and would bear further investigation. It also had a quart bottle full of dwarvish peach brandy, which Needles took away from Trevor; the bottle was used to toast Jed’s death and return.
The delve was declared profitable for the party as a whole, though Jed and Alric might very well have walked away with less wealth than they walking in with. Jed received the Cool Point for dying dramatically while taking one for the team… though it was observed that we’re slowly turning the Cool Point into the Consolation Prize, “Here, Buddy, Walk It Off” Point.