Pandemonium Megadungeon Session Report #6

Hello again! You can read previous session reports here: #1, #2, #3, #4, and #5.

2nd Day of the Month of the Imperium

Today, the party consists of:
The Eldest Orphan of Forsaken for Eternity by Birth, Fighter 4; mohawked noble with aristocrat’s boots, a miser’s flute, a necklace of fireballs, and a ghostly right leg to match Sōt’s left.
Sōt III, Butcher of Bugs, Roller of Rugs, Squandering Hugs, Fighter 4; a knight dressed in bone mail-and-plate, missing his left ear but blessed with a ghostly left leg, carrying a silver Pike of Warning, his nonmagical but heavily-notched longsword Righty, dust of disappearance, a cursed jester mask of Nidaros, and a camera from now-MIA comrade Erasmus Karl.
Snuffet the Twisted Pointer, Magic-User 3 (having leveled up since last session); a stoner transmuter with a feather of Hieracon, many new spells, and a ghostly left arm.
Old Iron Grip, Magic-User 2; an illusionist with an iron left hand, iron left peg leg, and no left ear.
Runpril the Crunty, Magic-User 2; a smiley translocator with a ghostly right arm, now clutching a pouchful of poison darts.
The Luggage, a chest fitted with magical wooden donkey legs (now wearing socks, to keep it quiet).

The party descended through the monument hole found at the previous session to a shadowy catacomb. Almost immediately, something snuffed their lights, and they had a spirit-telepathy (all but Old Iron Grip able to communicate telepathically with spirits after defeating Bolokhiv) in the dark. The creature was a servant of the Judge of Kings, and hated the light. Suddenly, after a flash from Sōt’s camera and a miscast invisibility, lights appeared and the creature was revealed as a shadowy ghostly skeleton wrapped in cloth: a brief fight ensued, and the thing scuttle-flew away into the dark. Chains were heard rattling in the distance.

After encountering walls of shadow and hearing scuttling things in the dark, the party retreated to the surface.

Using Runpril’s magic, the party teleported down to the far edge of the goblin encampment, skipping the stairs. They: ran into a merchant named Kitus, Quartermaster; descended the back stairs in the goblin camp to the dwarf territory; quarreled with dwarf traps; and got into a long slog of a battle—dwarves wear heavy armor and fight in defensive positions, using attrition to their advantage.

Retreating from the dwarves, the party: went back to the goblin camp; met a somewhat friendly multigoblin; got a voucher from a tour from Bokho, the Great Pedant, one of the goblin splinter faction leaders; tangled with some skeletons; and went down to the second level to find Tonus, Master Alchemist, a now-familiar potion merchant.

The party purchased a black bottle imp from Tonus, which answers one question: the party asked to learn the Celestine activation phrase for a teleportation circle nearby, which the imp told them, then vanished. The party committed this phrase to memory, practicing the choral Celestine phrase.

They sold some claimed dwarf heads to the local orcs, who paid a pittance, then retreated to the surface.

3rd Day of the Month of the Imperium

Completely turning over, the party today consists of:
Lord Tarkus Two-Fingers, Magic-User 3; an aspiring dark lord necromancer with a ghostly right hand (with three ghost-skeletal fingers), an amber comb, and a Lagash sapling.
Paparazzo Vetch the Orcbreaker, Fighter 3; a tourist-turned-chef with a belt of cat imprisonment and an oilskin bag holding an imprisoned air elemental.
Gunko, Magic-User 1; a goblin illusionist, a former pickpocket.
Ketchup, Magic-User 1; an orphaned translocator.
(Plus the Luggage, who accompanies most trips.)

Descending, Tarkus almost miscast death ward but managed to land it regardless; he then animated six skeletons to serve him. The party then: ran into Curus, Master Peddler, another merchant; triggered many dwarf traps; snuck into orc territory via secret passage; clambered over a paddock full of leather-eating worms; and found their way to orc territory proper.

After killing some orcs in a forge-tannery-hybrid, the party discovered a secret chamber behind a huge tanning barrel, holding coins, jewelry, ambergris, a prayer of the seal, and a +2 hauberk made from phynox (which prevents the wearer from being disarmored).

Moving further, they discovered a large ritual combat arena, where two orcs hacked each other to pieces, watched by a dozen more. Seizing the opportunity, the party ambushed the orcs, and a vicious battle ensued: the party slew most of the orcs, but all of Tarkus’s skeletal minions were slain, and at the last minute two orcs broke ranks and attacked Tarkus directly.

Tarkus collapsed, lungs punctured, dying. To buy time, the party fit Gunko’s air bladder into the hole while Vetch, a butcher, opened another hole between his ribs to drain the blood and fluids. So long as Gunko kept manually pumping Tarkus’s lungs with air bladder, he remained alive but unconscious. Hauling him back to Curus, they bought a vial of nightshade, which Curus explained would separate Tarkus’s spirit from his body. Pouring it down his throat, a translucent ghost-Tarkus emerged, and the body went into a coma. As a spirit, Tarkus only speaks the Ghosttongue, but all the party members who defeated Bolokhiv possess the ability to telepathically communicate with spirits, and thus can translate despite not understanding his spoken words.

Back on the surface, the party brought Tarkus’s body to the temple and paid a hefty fine, where the priest managed to save him—though his ghost remained separate.

4th Day of the Month of the Imperium

Sōt, Tarkus (still a ghost), and Ketchup ventured forth, now joined by:
Keviin, Fighter 1; a burglar and main tender-to of the Luggage.

Before that, though, Tarkus flew down the side of the cliff that the town of Forsaken sits on to examine the stone disc set into the cliff-face, which Vetch noticed a few days earlier. Sticking his ghostly head through the disc he (climactically!) found himself staring into darkness.

Descending to level 2, the party: ran into Tonus, Master Alchemist, again; went back to dwarf territory; triggered many traps via Tarkus holding a silver coin (as ghosts can touch and hold silver normally); and Ketchup miscast telekinesis, suddenly opening a teleportation portal to an unknown location beneath their feet. Sōt, unfortunately, fell into the portal: Ketchup and Keviin, unwilling to abandon a comrade, leapt in after him. Ghost-Tarkus, however, assumed that they were dead meat and stayed behind.

Tarkus, on his lonesome, decided to explore down the large pit near them. The party had seen this pit many times, and knew it was full of water, but never dared explore. Going down, he found an underground lake in a huge cavern. After scouting the exterior of the cavern—some two hundred feet across, with a few exits—Tarkus found a second, smaller hole in the cavern’s ceiling with sunlight at the top. Ascending upwards, he found himself emerging in the center of Forsaken, coming out of the town well. Before returning to town, though, Tarkus instead floated downwards, into the water of the lake, moving down further and further until there was no light. There, as he felt the water move through his incorporeal form, he called out into the water. He felt the waters churn, and something whispered back to him in Elvish, a strange slithering voice. Nervous, he flew back to the surface of the lake and back to Forsaken.

Meanwhile, Sōt, Ketchup, and Keviin emerged from the portal to find themselves in a familiar circular chamber: four doors, and a raised circle of polish stone in the center surrounded by seven concentric rings of writing. Poking around, they realized that Ketchup miscast teleport had taken them to the closest fixed teleportation circle—not far at all.

Backtracking to where they fell through the portal, the three failed to find Tarkus. Instead, they: contemplated opening a mummy sarcophagus; ran into some orcs (who hadn’t seen Tarkus); tried to talk to some skeletons (but nobody speaks the Corpsetongue); swung a lantern into the pit looking for Tarkus; and eventually headed out of the dungeon.

Back on the surface, Tarkus was immensely surprised to see his three comrades alive and well: he said he expected them to have gone to the Hells, or something even worse.

5th Day of the Month of the Imperium

Sōt, Ghost-Tarkus, Ketchup, and Keviin went down once again. They: smashed a skeleton; met Huntus, Master-at-Arms, and Keviin bought six lifestealing arrows made from porcelain (which lets the slayer learn the last thoughts of the victim); baited the mummy from its tomb so Tarkus could steal its most prized posession (“that which binds the universe together”)—a pot of glue.

Sōt tried dabbing the glue against his thumb and finger and immediately found them stuck together. Returning to the surface, he had the temple priest delicately saw his fingers apart, losing a millimeter of thumb-skin in the process.

As they were tired from the days’ adventuring, they opted for a different path: lowering Sōt down on a rope and using Ghost-Tarkus as a lookout, they hammered a series of pitons into the well-shaft and hung ropes between them, making a ladder. The last 40’ dangled freely, a rope-ladder that could be pulled up on their ascent.

Ladder installed, the party lowered down their folding boat and dropped it into the water, clambering aboard. Ketchup, excited by the idea mermaids,” convinced Tarkus to try to retrieve the Elvish-speakers from below. Tarkus went down again, and using a combination of ghostly hand-gestures and calling in the Ghosttongue, managed to lure the creature up to the surface of the lake.

Breaking the surface, it was a roughly humanoid creature, pale and clammy, with webbed hands and feet, long pointy ears, a slitted gill mouth, and smooth skull where the eyes should be—a pale elf, which the party had only heard rumor of but never seen. A second one, undetected by Tarkus, broke the surface as well, and the two swam in lazy circles around the ship.

Ketchup, excited, spoke with them, and they learned that the pale elves dwelt far below, at the bottom of the lake. They worshiped or followed someone known as the Deacon of the Dusk, and hated most of their neighbors—in particular a dragon called the Emerald Nexus. If the party were to slay the dragon, the pale elves might find themselves generously disposed towards them. At that point, someone said the possible name of the Deacon aloud and the pale elves grew furious—one nearly attacked, but they departed in peace.

Then, three bloated zombie-things swam up to the boat and tried to climb aboard. The party attacked them and were sprayed with filthy water. After, they returned to the surface.

6th Day of the Month of the Imperium

In the small hours of the morning, Old Iron Grip realized he had more cash than he thought and spent it all, leveling up to become Old Iron Grip the Dying.

He, Vetch, and the Eldest Orphan descended, joined by:
Donkers, Fighter 1; another brother of Chonkers and Bonkers, this one a disgraced champion long-jumper (he rolled an 18 for agility). Before going down, Donkers grabbed Bonkers’ backpack, still filled with a pack crab, now swollen to a nearly-spherical shape.

Knowing that Vetch’s scheduled appointment with the myconids was tomorrow, the party opted for something milder: they decided to test the teleportation circle. They headed down to level 2, spoke the Celestine phrase followed by the Goblinoid phrase (from one of the six other surrounding rings of text) to illuminate the polished disc with light. They stepped through and found themselves deep in goblin territory, a place they’d already been.

From there, they: cashed in their voucher for a tour with Bokho, the Great Pedant; slew a water elemental that laid in ambush; robbed a tomb too heavy for the goblins to open; met one(ish) friendly multigoblin; and accidentally miscast hypnotic orb onto the most spherical object around—the pack crab inside Donkers’ bag.

Tour completed, they talked with the goblins, learning that a nearby room held some monster that the goblins were trying to convert into a goblin (via psychosyringe through the ear), but kept killing them. The party made a deal: they get the monster to the point the goblins can syringe it, and they get all the loot in the room. The goblins agreed. After some investigating, the party realized the inside held a manticore; using the hypnotic crab and Vetch’s belt of cat imprisonment, the party threw the door open. While the manticore resisted the hypnosis, it did stay within the belt, and combined with an illusory barrier to hide their path, the party scouted the chamber while dodging manticore barbs—no treasure, only corpses. They emerged having suffered only one casualty: the hypnotic pack crab, which caught a barb as the Eldest Orphan held it aloft. Frustrated and feeling betrayed, they began arguing with the goblins—until some rival goblins showed up and the Great Pedant and its followers took off. The party took their leave, heading back to the surface.

7th Day of the Month of the Imperium

The party descended, not through the main stairs beneath the Inn but rather through the secret entrance beneath the general store, down to the mushroom territory. Speaking with a slimy sporous fountain, Vetch informed the myconid hive mind that he had arrived for his appointment. Two myconids arrived shortly afterwards to guide the party to the Council.

As they walked, they passed: another mossy fountain with a shrine in it; a room full of giant moths (which the myconids put to sleep); myconid mushroom-growth meditation circles; pits full of growing mycoslime (same as in the first fountain); a huge mushroom called a myconid titan; and eventually to another shrine, where the myconids stopped. As the party got deeper into the mushroom territory, a golden haze filled the air; Donkers inhaled too much of it and felt all his aches and pains fade away, totally blissful and numb.

The myconids began the ritual process of preparing Vetch’s brain to speak with the Council: painkiller and paralytic fungi for the surgery, trepanning the skull, psychedelic mushrooms, and an injection of slime beneath the skull to tap into the hive mind. Vetch felt his mind transcend, connecting slowly to an ever-expanding network of consciousness, a magnificent organization of cooperation and purpose. Seeing himself from many directions at once, he left the party (who sampled mushrooms and politely waited) and entered to commune with the council.

Inside were seven huge fungi, each different—an enormous cap, a sprawl of brain fungi, mycorrhizal fibers, and so on—with vines and tendrils interlinking with gold and treasures, forming one huge magical entity. This, the mind said, was the Council of Mehrgarh, the Magnificent Ministry. Vetch asked many questions, not so much speaking as simply communing in concepts and emotions, and received many answers: the Ministry had been growing for 900 years; they were once each something different than fungi; they had some allies (the Judge of Kings, the Castellan of the Depths); and many enemies (the Bloodbound Brigand, the Heart of Many Hearts, the Cannibal King); that the Magnificent Ministry truly was pacifist and would never harm anyone; and that to join them, which Vetch desired, he would need to expand and increase the power of his mind, and gain understanding of some subject or medium they lacked—they recommended animalia, flesh, non-fungal matter.

His transcendental high fading and his connection slowly ending, the myconids returned Vetch to his comrades, most of whom had now inhaled the golden spore haze to also numb their pain. Upon leaving, the myconids gifted them many other mushrooms: blue mushrooms to cause sleep, yellow mushrooms to cause cataplexy, and indigo mushrooms to induce heightened emotional awareness and empathy.

From there, the myconids guided the party back to the surface, and they returned to Forsaken.

Where will the party go next? How will Vetch expand and increase his mind? Will they ever find a big haul of treasure again?

Find out next time.

April 30, 2024