- Meathead (Pronounced Me-Thea-Ad) – Vulgar Dwarf Fighter.
- Jake – Tiefling Pickpocket Rogue.
- Blake – Jaded Human Wizard.
- Azhul – Optimistic Dragonborn Paladin.
- Donovan – Bellicose Human War Priest. (Mostly ABSENT)
Having successfully finished their first dungeon, the team was debriefed by Lieutenant Mattahey. They are surprised to learn that dungeoneer squads actually call for five members. Mattahey is unashamed of having sent them in under strengthed, but does introduce Azhul to the team. Azhul is an insanely cheerful blue dragonborn paladin whose magic springs from hope and manifests in shades of blue (as an homage to the Blue Lantern Corps). As the party struggles to understand the dragonborn’s inexhaustible optimism in the face of unending death and destruction, they are sent to the city to investigate a dungeon that has long been in existence, but only recently unlocked.
The team boards a small transport (again) with some common soldiers (again). On the way there, another surprise attack from gas-masked small folk begins. At this point, Isaac (the player who runs Donovan) gets an IRL call about sick kids. Donovan and two enemies tumble off a conveniently placed hill, and Donovan ‘gracefully’ exits play. The fight would be simple, but the attackers seem less concerned about winning and more about taking captives. The party is ambivalent about preventing the commons soldiers from being captured. Jake is knocked out during the struggle with sleep venomed arrows. Azhul tries to use his breath weapon to hit his foes and wake Jake up. Unfortunately, he ends up KOing Jake (on top of merely being asleep). This leads to some tense (and bitter) death saves.
Blake avoids rolling too terribly and the party takes stock of the dead and unconscious attackers. They recognize hobgoblin markings on the armor. Unmasking the creatures, and waking one for interrogation, they are surprised to discover that the creatures appear to be kobold/human hybrids from their earlier dungeon. The captive notices Meathead and cries out in horror, calling him “The Slayer.” The party officially theorizes that time passes differently between planes, and that their first dungeon foray somehow has caused a whole host of unintended consequences. This is especially mind-boggling though considering they were ambushed in Adventure 1 prior to having visited the dungeon.
Having endured another ambush, but having learned about their ambushers, the team finally makes there way to the “Office of Unspecified Services” which acts as a nice front for the Dungeoneers on the home front. The house is a tasteful brick townhome, appointed as if a well-heeled merchant owns it, but a number of obvious adventurer types are coming and going. Rather than a secretary, a gnomish lounge singer sits on a gnomish baby grand piano crooning shlocky music. An office full of oddities and tomes of knowledge can be seen behind the lounge singer, who greets them in flourish of falsetto and piano tunes to accompany all their conversation. After hideous rhyming narrations the frustrated party demands to see the man in charge.
The lounge singer introduces himself as Colonel Nephalim, head of the Dugeoneers Corps. The party is suitably abashed. Nephalim makes a pass at the oblvious and righteous Azhul before telling them that he has just uncovered a key to the tower of a building long thought inaccessible. Knowing what they know now about dungeons, they are certain this is a long dormant dungeon.
Confused and appalled by their musical encounter with the Colonel, the party proceeds to the dungeon. It is in town, recently uncovered during a construction project. The Doorway is flickering in and out and made of metal. A gatekeeper opens the door, and cautions Jake to not try to steal the key. The party find themselves in dank, rumbling, and dimly lit metal corridor. Jake finds a door and pressure plate and waits for team. The pressure plate takes them into what seems like a steam engine room.
Everyone is struck by the Industrial smell and the sounds of gears turning, inside of an industrial center. The steam has condensed into fetid ankle-deep water. Jake scouts ahead and finds green-shelled creatures with peach skin. Their faces are cover in visors. Azhul makes contact and finds they understand a bastardized form of draconian. Another creature in a red shell leads us out of engine room to find ‘the lizard in charge.’
Jake hides behind group the group as they pass more creatures, now obviously turtles-men, prepping for action. They come to an observation deck overlooking cannon. There’s a larger more dragonesque lizard with spiky blue hair and a wand. He is an observation tower, overlooking a mushroom castle. By this point, I abandon all pretext and refer to all parties involved by their in-game Mario Brothers name (I will explain how the hell I ended up in a Mario adventure later on). I call him Iggy Koopa, but strong internet fact checking reveals that he was in fact LUDWIG VON KOOPA.
Whoops. This is what you get for not planning.
The Dungeoneers hear a tale of woe about how an important princess is being held a captive at a castle and needs rescue. The party realizes they are on board a giant clanking ground tank. The tank’s main turret is bombarding the castle with huge bullets. These bullets fly fast, but not the speed of an actual bullet. The party decides to rescue the princess in exchange for a key out of the dungeon. They decide to ‘ride’ a bullet to the Mushroom Kingdom Capital.
They split up onto Bullets #00038 & #00039. Ahead of them, poor #00037 explodes for no damage against the wall. The explosion does look rather deadly to the bullet riders though. The party desperately tries to angle the bullets higher towards a balcony. Meathead smashes the butt end of 00038 to increase its angle of ascent. Jake somehow fails in rope use so horribly he tumbles backwards and gets hooked onto 00039. Meat manages to get his bullet high enough to attempt a jump to the battlements.
He spends an inspiration. “Clouds have hidden spring boards.” The springboard (and the advantage) does not save him. I offer him the choice of landing at his target and taking more damage or falling to the ground. Meathead, true to form, opts for more damage.
Azhul, Blake and Jake struggle to get their bullet on course (they roll much, much worse on average than Meat but between them manage). Jake bails them out with a grapnel to the balcony and giving all of them an easy ascent. Azhul heals party to full. They are then accosted by small men with mushroom helmets, whom they easily understand.
The Magic of the mushroom kingdom allows people to understand each other.
They are escorted to throne room by Mario, Luigi, and 12 spear-armed Toads. They quickly realize that the Koopas are the aggressors. After loading up with a Mushroom and Fire Flower, they trudge back to Ludwig’s Land Tank and brush past his Hammer Brother guards. They betray poor, poor Ludwig with a combined sneak attack from Jack and an absurdly effective smite from Azhul. Ludwig dies before even getting the chance to inevitably double (triple?) cross the party. The Hammer Brothers continue to fight, but Meathead tanks them hard and they are busted up with some nice critical hits, Mushrooms, and Fire Flowers. Having found the key on Iggy, the party smash up the control room. After a brief discussion with the Princess, each party member is given a gold coin (metamatter) and exits for The Great Tavern.
The party has a good time taking Mario paraphernalia and binding it with metamatter. Meathead binds a green turtle shell to himself (+1 natural AC). Azhul, the hammer wielding paladin, retains access to the Hammer Brothers “Hammerspace” for an unlimited supply of throwing hammers. Blake bonds with a Fire Flower, gaining access to some daily firepower (har har har). Jake bonded the cloud springboard, getting a Jump spell daily. They also brought home some shells and flowers for the war effort and to appease Colonel Nephalim.
What the Hell Happened (No, I didn’t eat a Mushroom)
I had no adventure planned. I asked the players to give me a word for the adventure. What I got was dank, loud, industrial and two other words I didn’t use. For whatever unfathomable reason, trying to picture this as a dungeon, led me to the airships in Super Mario Brothers 3. I rejiggered a few things and decided to let it play out. Everyone had a great time.
Player Setting Creation: While not an unqualified success, the players began to take the narrative reigns courtesy of my coaxing and a desire to use Inspiration in a number of tense situations.
Winging It: I would have never, ever planned a Mario Brothers 3 homage. It worked though. Its the sort of adventure that as a one-off was fun and different, but as a campaign would probably end up grating.
My Memory: I’m sure I missed some fun details. For whatever reason, this was a tough one to write in a way that I felt would be interesting for the readers. As such, I delayed and delayed, leaving it less fresh in my memory.
What’s the Deal with that Bold Text? – The items in bold are dangling plot threads for next time. I consider those a lot in between sessions, but I am not necessarily know where they will lead. If you have any ideas or suggestions, let me know on twitter @Veredium with the hashtag:#TheGreatDungeon.