The adventurers suddenly find themselves together in a strange room. When they look at themselves, they can’t make out any features but each notices that he or she is tethered to a figure on a stone table which they recognize as themselves from the last two sessions.
A voice protests that “The focus is off!” and they black out.
When they wake up, they are back in the bodies they are becoming accustomed to. Hogwash the Elf Bard, Pigsnout the Elf Fighter, Meldor Ironforge the Dwarf Wizard, Kerla Chog the Human Fighter, Cullos Crowbane the Human Wizard, Bhardor Silvertongue the Dwarf Bard, Dishrag the Elf Cleric, and Katnip Everdeen the Dwarf Rogue all stand before a giant figure twice their size with massive, gilded armor. Nearby stands an imp in long robes with a high collar and a tall top hat. His face is obscured but the adventurers see glowing eyes and the glint of teeth.
They are addressed by the giant. “Welcome, adventurers! I am Hero, Guildmaster of Heroes Inc…”
“Adventure, Inc,” the other said, interrupting.
“What Hatman? Oh. Right. The name change. Those thieving, conniving…” Hero’s face darkens. “Right. Enhance your calm, Hero. It’s just a name. Just your own very name that that orc-loving son-of-a-goblyn Gryffin Goldenblade mutinied right out from under you! I mean, Gryffin?? Really, Gerry? Do you think that’s really fooling anyone?”
“Get on with it,” Hatman said.
“What? Oh. Right. Welcome to… Adventure Inc.,” Hero said, “where we are in the business questing for treasure, righting wrongs, ridding the land of monsters… of building Heroes… and sometimes Villains, but there’s always a few bad eggs. Better villains make better heroes.”
One of the party ventures to ask, “Why are we here?” but Hero waves it off as an existential question not worth his time.
Hatman prompts him in a more constructive direction. “They haven’t signed on.”
“What? Oh, that. Right. Moriarty volunteered this lot. Wait… they haven’t even got their badges. I thought they’d simply missed their orientation… When you said Moriarty volunteered them, did you mean…” Hero looks flabbergasted.
Hatman shrugs. “He kidnapped them and tossed them into the mix.”
“Why would he do that?”
Hatman shrugs again. “You know Moriarty. I suspect it amused him.”
“I can’t unhook them yet. They’ll go mad.”
Hero’s face fell but then brightened. “But the rogue…”
Hatman shook his head. “Was dead. And that was Moriarty’s doing. Don’t know what he did. Don’t know how. Don’t care. They can be released when the portal is fixed. If they die trying… The ones he finds boring, he sends to the REALM OF B.O.B. I suspect they’d last less than a minute.”
“And be of no use to us,” Hero realized “And we really need that portal fixed. Right. Well, I think we can remedy the inequity. I am giving you volunteers…”
“Terms are important.”
“Right. I’m giving you volunteered the chance to sign on with Adventure Inc., even if it means lowering our standards” Hero looks pointedly at dwarves. “The last dwarf I trusted betrayed me, but when you can’t scrape the bottom of the barrel any longer, it doesn’t hurt to look under it.” Hero paused and blinked. “That doesn’t make any sense.”
Shrugging off his momentary confusion, Hero continues. “Here are my terms. In return for fixing the portal that Moriarty wants you to fix anyway, we will accept you as provisional. Upon accepting our deal, you receive a Hero badge granting you up to 5 divine Hero points, starting at a number determined by your level. The Badge also allows you access to keyed portals. They anchor your progress to a particular location, return here for a short rest and return to adventuring. This means you have time to restore spell slots, attune items, and that sort of thing. The keyed ports do cost money as do uses of Hero points. Hero points cost 20 GP. Use of the port is determined by Hatman’s formula.”
Hatman nodded. “The cost is 1800GP per port, split amongst the party. If you don’t pay… Tentacles!!”
Hero rolled his eyes. “Payment is due every tenday. Of course, until Moriarty’s curse is lifted, the ports will be free.” Hero looked pointedly at Hatman. “Especially since I have to port you back to wherever you came from as part of his curse. Speaking of which, Moriarty needs to speak to a Jotun Something… Something Unpronounceable. Where is he?” After surveying the adventurers, he scratches his head. Hatman, we seem to be missing a few of them. Can we figure out where they went?”
Hero turns back to the adventurers. “If you succeed, you will be eligible to become full-fledged members of the guild or go about your former drab little lives as you watch the members of Heroes, Inc… Adventure Inc. go on to fame and glory! What say you?”
The adventurers, of course, choose to become provisional members of Adventure, Inc, at least for the time being.
Team 1 Progress
Waking from their weird shared vision, Hogwash the Elf Bard, Pigsnout the Elf Fighter, and Meldor Ironforge the Dwarf Wizard, find themselves back where they left off in the NORTH WATCH CAVERN. Only their new Adventure Inc badges indicate that what they just experienced was real. They are alarmed to realize that Lightfingers the Elf Rogue is missing.
Remembering that two War’todes had fled and would likely bring reinforcements, they decided to head toward the southwest tunnel.
This tunnel eventually emptied at the east side of a cavern. The KYPSELI CAVERN was lit by bioluminescent vines which revealed that most of the chamber was a deep pit. A rope bridge extended to a rock ledge on the north wall. The vines hung down from this ledge and also grew up the wall there, extending upwards forty feet. They could also hear the buzzing of insect wings above them. Another rope bridge extended from the northern ledge to another ledge along the southwest wall. Two tunnels led away from this ledge, to the west and south respectively.
Hogwash led the way across the rope bride, but Pigsnout sneezed, alerting a winged kypseli (a sentient bug-reptile species sometimes referred to as cacovespids) to their presence. Pigsnout hit it with an arrow, grievously wounding it, whereupon it fled. On the northern ledge, Hogwash climbed the glowing vines but, as they led nowhere, he returned. Crossing the second bridge, they opted for the west tunnel.
They came to a halt ten feet from a wide pit. Hogwash drew closer to examine it, whereupon, he discovered it was a “Leap of Faith” trap. In other words, a hidden trap just in front of the obvious pit opened beneath the bard’s feet, depositing him into the PIT OF THE DYING. Meldor leapt after his friend, intending to save Hogwash. Pigsnout then realized he had some rope.
Awakened by Hogwash’s entry, Snizzle the Cleric of Kroakatoa accosted them, but when he saw they were trying to escape he was enraged that his tributes should not accept their fate. Hogwash attempted to climb the rope but couldn’t overcome his panic at the trauma of seeing so many dead and rotting corpses.
Meldor kept his head and scurried up the rope, showing him how to climb. Hogwash managed to get halfway up the rope when Snizzle cast thunderwave, tossing Hogwash from the rope with great force. He died on impact.
Pigsnout and Meldor stared down at their friend helplessly.
A poem by Dandylion Discord the Bard.
Oh, Hogwash! I say.
What is this foul game
Never knew his own name
A bard with great courage
And oft used his head
Yet the Pit of the Dying
Became the Pit of the Dead
A mad cleric’s thunderwave
Swept him away
Now he is gone
Oh, Hogwash! I say.
Team 2 Progress
Davroar Hollysword the Elf Cleric finds himself standing in a room of nebulous proportions. He notes that he is tethered to Fenris Fairweather.
Moriarty informs him that the husk he’s been playing as is dead, but that he doesn’t need to die.
“Oh, Fenris is dead, because he was an idiot, but you don’t have to die. To be fair,” Moriarty said, “you’re not really a rogue, are you, Davroar? You’re a cleric.”
Moriarty then offers to make him a Cleric of the Mad God Moriarty. Having little choice, Davroar takes the undead dragon’s bargain.
“All hail Moriarty!”
Meanwhile, Kerla Chog the Human Fighter and Cullos Crowbane the Human Wizard find themselves back where they left off in the CHAMBER OF THE STONE WIZARD with the dead body of Fenris Fairweather. Alarmed by the strange shared vision they received, they note the Adventure Inc badges now in their possession, which confirms they did not imagine the experience. Still very much alarmed that Jotun Yggdrasil the Dwarf Cleric is suddenly missing and remembering the Ipsimus sentry above them, they decide to leave.
There are four exits on compass points in the diamond-shaped room. As Cullos walks toward the door to the north, the War’tode statue follows his movements, winding the rope affixed to it tighter. Examining the statue closer, Cullos smells the faint odor of gas and notes scorch marks on the floor. Looking closer, he sees two flame jets hidden in the sleeves of the stone wizard. Carefully retracing his steps, Cullos heads for the south door. Kerla follows.
In the next room, they see two rows of stone tables. An elf lies on one of them. The tables along the wall of this rectangular room contain rusty – and bloodied – knives, saws, hooks and various other instruments consistent with a morgue or butcher’s shop. They note four exits from the EXAMINATION ROOM on compass points. The doors to the south and west are slightly askew.
As the elf awakens, Cullos questions him and finds out that his name is Davroar Hollysword. Davroar remembers his comrades but does not mention that he was Fenris. Examining the room more closely, Cullos notes a draft coming from the northeast corner of the room. The wall here is actually a concealed door leading to a set of stairs. Davroar notes a door to the right at the top of the stairwell and a bat. The bat is disturbed by the presence of intruders and flies at them, but ultimately swoops down the stairwell into the EXAMINATION ROOM.
Opening the door at the top of the stairwell, they come to a large room. Tapestries line the walls depicting great events in Wart’ode history, where they learn that the Big Big Boss fed his predecessor, the Big Boss, to War’t and intends to feed a bunch of prisoners to his god to win the deity’s approval. Cullos finds the beginnings of a spellbook on the table. The wizard responsible had only been able to write down one spell before being obviously interrupted. Cullos rips out the page and pockets it.
Kerla finds many costumes in the wardrobes, including a War’tode costume, which she promptly puts on. Davroar finds a Key of Opening on the bedside table.
Noticing a draft behind one of the tapestries of the WIZARD’S ROOM, they discover a small tunnel. They also hear a War’tode complaining, “I can’t believe they got away!”
Davroar decides to investigate. The tunnel veers to the south and empties into northwest corner of a GUARD STOREROOM. They can see a door, slightly askew, on the west wall. The east wall contains a shelf with healing potions and rations toward the center and weapons, including two morning stars, a mace, and a rack of spears to the sides. Though realizing he will be in full sight of anyone who opens the door, Davroar sneaks up the shelf and score a few potions and rations.
Confident in her War’tode disguise, Kerla attempts to grab some loot as well, but she trips over her costume and lands heavily into the shelves, smashing the rest of the healing potions and gaining the attention of the War’tode jailer in the GUARD ROOM adjacent.
“What was that?” the jailer asks aloud.
“A shelf fell on me. It’s OK,” Kerla replied.
The War’tode was unconvinced. “Who is that?”
“Who are you?” Kerla shot back.
The War’tode sputtered. “I’m… I’m me! I’m the Captain of the Watch. You answer to me!” Throwing open the door, he takes stock of the situation. Mistaking Kerla for a real War’tode, he points to Davroar and shouts, “Intruder! Grab him!”
Kerla tries to take advantage of his confusion by taking a swing at him with her hammer, but she missed. She does that a lot.
Realizing now that Kerla was just in a costume, the War’tode jailer cries, “TWO intruders! Quick! Fizzle, help me!”
Fizzle the Elf Wizard, still under the effects of his misfired charm spell, rushes to aid his “friend.” Fortunately for the adventurers, Fizzle runs smack into the doorframe in his haste, knocks himself unconscious and falls back into the GUARD ROOM.
Davroar casts a ray of frost, effectively quelling the War’tode’s enthusiasm for a fight. Cullos tries to cast his own ray of frost but it frizzles out and simply leaves him with cold hands. Fortunately, Kerla rises to the occasion. Chasing after the War’tode jailer with her warhammer, she brought it down on the back of his rubbery head, killing him instantly.
Afterward, Davroar composed a poem in honor of Moriarty:
ALL HAIL MORIARTY
“All Hail Moriarty, Master of Chaos and Luck
All Hail Moriarty, He guided us when we were stuck
All Hail Moriarty, His blessing allowed us to knock the Bullywug to the floor
All Hail Moriarty, Davroar is yours!”
Team 3 Progress
Waking from their weird shared vision, Bhardor Silvertongue the Dwarf Bard, Dishrag the Elf Cleric, and Katnip Everdeen the Dwarf Rogue find themselves back where they left off in the caverns. Only their new Adventure Inc. badges indicate that what they just experienced was real.
Down on the ground floor of the cavern, they note four exits from the WEST WATCH CAVERN. Two are on the upper level, and one of those is to the east, where they first came from. They have no desire to return to the PIT OF THE DYING. One of the War’todes fled through the upper western exit. On the ground level, there are also exits to the east and west. They opt to chase the War’tode to the east; however, when they come to a fork in the passage, they stop and hear many overlapping War’tode voices coming from the passage that continues east. Realizing that way likely leads to overwhelming forces, they leave off the chase and take the other fork to the south.
This tunnel at last empties out at the northwest corner of a vast chamber. To the east end of the SOUTH WATCH CAVERN, they can see a lone War’tode guard relieving himself in a vast underground lake. A small stone column stands near a portcullis at the northeast corner of the cavern. To the west, they see a huge portcullis like the one that held the frogre the War’tode cleric Snizzle identified as the Avatar of Kroakatoa; however, on the other side of this portcullis, they can see a wounded dragon sleeping.
Hoping to take the War’tode by surprise, Katnip fires a crossbow bolt at it, but it deflects off the creatures rubbery neck without harm. As it turns around, Dishrag attempted to cast Sacred Flame, but it miscast, resulting in a flash of light. Stepping forward, Bhardor Silvertongue used a Vicious Mockery cantrip on the creature, dealing it enough psychic damage that, combined with the fact that it was outnumbered, caused it to dive into the underground lake waters and flee.
Examining the stone column, they discovered a depression exactly the size and shape of the Star Sapphire that Snizzle had given them. Placing it in the column opened the portcullis, which led to a narrow path along the waters edge. While they could only see another portcullis and stone column further down the path, they could see lights and hear War’tode voice nearby from somewhere along the underground lake nearby. They opted to retreat, shutting the portcullis behind them.
Examining the larger portcullis to the west, they noted another stone column but it was too far out of reach. They noted another huge portcullis at the other end of the DRAGON’S LAIR and that there were two entrances to the dragon’s lair from the northeast and northwest.
Realizing they needed to backtrack, they returned to the tunnel; however, when they came to the fork, they were surprised by the War’tode who’d fled them earlier and three of his buddies. Surprised, Katnip hurriedly drew her rapier but her first swing went wide. Bhardor rushed forward to help her but he overextended himself trying to get around her. His axe cut off Katnip’s toe!
Thinking quickly, Dishrag cast thaumaturgy. Intending to show a sign of his divine power in the form of a dragon’s voice, he roared a sheepish, “Baaaa!”
Fortunately, the two lead War’todes were sufficiently frightened to retreat and their friends joined them, running back the way they’d come.